Steinmetz: Trouble brewing on Warriors' road trip


Steinmetz: Trouble brewing on Warriors' road trip


The Warriors have won three in a row and are playing better. There are whispers of turning a corner and theyre approaching full health for the first time this season.Theres some upbeat-ness around the team, no doubt.But the road awaits, and we all know what that means: Trouble brewing. The Warriors are 4-12 away from Oracle this season, with the wins coming against Sacramento, Minnesota, New York and Toronto.This ones is going to be tougher than most. Lets take a look Wednesday, at Atlanta: The Hawks have been just so-so since their 6-0 start, but theyre still awfully good at home, and are currently working on an eight-game winning streak at Philips Arena. Atlanta has the kind of big and talented frontline (Al Horford, Josh Smith) that often gives the Warriors problems.Friday, at Charlotte: On the surface, this is the most winnable game on the trip, but keep in mind the Stephen Silas factor. Silas, who had been an assistant for five seasons with the Warriors, recently joined his father, Paul, on the bench in Charlotte. If anyone knows the Warriors, Silas Jr. does. Who knows? Silas Jr. might have some Monta-Stopper in him.Saturday, at Miami: The Heat has won 14 of its past 15 games, and are the best defensive team in the NBA when it comes to points against. On Dec. 10, Miami shut down the Warriors at Oracle in the second half of a 20-plus point win, holding them to just 39 points. It doesnt look like Miami is messing around anymore.Monday, at Orlando: The Magic is coming off consecutive 59-win seasons, and still that wasnt good enough for GM Otis Smith. He rolled the dice by trading for Gilbert Arenas, Jason Richardson and Hedo Turkoglu. The Magic is a very good team, has a sense of urgency, and the Warriors are on a back-to-back. Not good at all.Wednesday, Jan. 5, at New Orleans: After an 11-1 start, the Hornets are 18-13 at this point. New Orleans is no lock to make the playoffs, but its nice start has put them in a nice position. Any game on Chris Pauls home floor is going to be a difficult one for the Warriors.

Kerr, Warriors in preliminary stages of planning for Durant's return

Kerr, Warriors in preliminary stages of planning for Durant's return

OAKLAND -- Though Kevin Durant is eager to get back to the court, Warriors coach Steve Kerr and his assistants are in preliminary stages of planning his return.

One thing is certain: There will be restriction on the number of minutes Durant is plays in the first few games after he receives medical clearance.

“It’s something we’ll consult the training staff on,” Kerr said Saturday after practice. “I imagine we’ll ease him back by playing him shorter minutes to start, so he can build up his rhythm and his conditioning.”

Durant has been out since Feb. 28, when he sustained a sprained medial collateral ligament (MCL) and bone bruise to his left knee. After several days of strict immobilization, he has over the past week progressed to the point where he is engaging in vigorous workouts and shooting sessions.

Yet Durant will not be re-evaluated until next Thursday, which means he likely will not be cleared before the week of April 3. Not until then will the coaching staff devise a plan to reintegrate Durant.

“That obviously has a domino effect on the entire rotation,” Kerr said. “When we get to that point, we’ll figure that out. But it’s not something I’m giving a lot of thought to right now because he’s still at least a couple weeks away.”

The Warriors lost five of seven in the immediate aftermath of Durant’s injury but have recovered to win the last six in a row.


Feeling more comfortable, West cleaning up Warriors' messes down stretch

Feeling more comfortable, West cleaning up Warriors' messes down stretch

OAKLAND -- David West is as much a cleanup man as he is a basketball player.

The veteran power forward, masquerading as a center for the Warriors, cleans up behind teammates, cleans the clocks of opponents and probably cleans his plate after every meal. And he’d hit fourth in any baseball manager’s batting order.

The Warriors during their renaissance haven’t had such a personality. They’ve been a fun bunch, enjoying life, each other and their pillaging of the NBA.

West, 36, brings a more laconic dynamic, and it’s on full display as the Warriors lean into the final weeks of this regular season. He’s a leader who is producing and, more and more, winning over a fan base that was somewhat skeptical early this season.

“David West has been playing brilliantly,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Friday night, after West came off the bench for a highly efficient 14-minute stint in a 114-100 win over the Kings.

Showcasing sharp passing, splendid shooting, solid rim protection and his usual old-jerky toughness, West totaled 8 points, four assists, three rebounds, three blocks and one steal. The Warriors were plus-8 when he was on the floor.

Such production, it seems, is a bit of a bonus.

“He’s been very good for us as a veteran leader,” Draymond Green said. “He’s been playing well, but just his presence also has meant a lot to this team.

“D-West is just kind of a no-bull---- type of a guy. He doesn’t say much. But when he does, you know it means a lot. And everybody hears him.”

Said West: “It’s just about adjusting and learning personalities. Obviously, this group has been very successful. I just try to add my 2 cents where I feel like it fits. Try not to over-talk people. I speak to guys directly and just make sure that we’re all on the same page.”

West is in his 14th season. Drafted by the New Orleans Hornets in 2003, he also has played for the Pacers and, last season, the Spurs, before joining the Warriors in July.

The question at the time was whether he still had a lot to give. West is a two-time All-Star and one of the most widely respected players in the league. But did he still have the legs to compete at a high level?

The answer is visible, particularly over the past month, since he returned from fractured left thumb on Feb. 23. West is shooting 53.0 percent from the field, he’s rebounding consistently and he has proven to be a spectacularly good passer -- easily one of the best in the league among big men.

Earlier this week, to quell any lingering concerns about how much athleticism he still has, West rose up and dunked over a crowd of three Dallas Mavericks. It was clock-cleaning at its finest.

“I’m just getting more comfortable,” West said, referring to his game and his locker-room influence. “We’ve developed good chemistry, communicating, harping on our defense more than anything else at this moment, because we feel that’s going to give us a chance if shots aren’t falling.”

West is on a one-year deal for the veteran’s minimum, $1.55 million. He sacrificed bigger dollars for a chance at his first championship. He’s doing his part. And he neither takes nor leaves any mess.