Warriors Fast Forward: Bogut looks for atonement

Warriors Fast Forward: Bogut looks for atonement
December 13, 2013, 2:30 pm
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Dwight Howard played 35 minutes, finishing with 22 points and 18 rebounds in his last game against the Warriors. (USATSI)

OAKLAND – The memory hasn't gone away, nor should it, as it was seven days ago in Houston that the Rockets clobbered the Warriors.

It was straight domination, tip to buzzer, with a no one taking more abuse than Andrew Bogut.

[RELATED: Rockets lose in Portland despite Howard's big night]

Faced with the imposing challenge that is Dwight Howard, Bogut lost the individual matchup in every conceivable way. It was the worst loss of the season for the Warriors, a 105-83 spanking that also stands as a highly visible defeat for Bogut.

So here they are on Friday, the Warriors (13-10) and Rockets (15-8) facing each other at Oracle Arena. Will it be a night of atonement for Bogut? He surely needs it.

"Dwight, he's a handful,'' Bogut said this week. "We did a good job last game in that first quarter of guarding him. Then he got a couple cheap baskets and got going. And then he was rebounding at a high level.

"We still have work to do with him, having to address him not getting easy baskets.''

[RELATED: Surgery for Jermaine O'Neal]

The numbers were, well, humiliating for Bogut. Howard played 35 minutes, finishing with 22 points and 18 rebounds. Bogut turned in 4 points and rebounds, playing only 18 minutes as a result of being whistled for five fouls while attempting to defend Howard.

"We fouled a lot. I fouled a lot. I was in foul trouble,'' Bogut recalled. "I've had to remember that, so we definitely look forward to this matchup.''

If Bogut's immediate response to that beatdown is any indication, the 7-foot Aussie will be ready to play. One night after being worked by Howard, Bogut stifled Grizzlies star Zach Randolph, the effort being a key component in win at Memphis that ended a five-year losing streak in Tennessee.

Two nights later, at Charlotte, Bogut's assignment was Al Jefferson. Though Jefferson's crafty moves again put Bogut in foul trouble, Big Al was far from the primary reason the Warriors lost that game.

Bogut's response to that was to grab a season-high 18 rebounds in the victory over Dallas on Wednesday.

The big man came out of the Houston debacle on a mission. Bogut has been inspired, playing his best ball. And now he has a chance to even a week-old score.

KEY MATCHUPS

Bogut vs. Howard: Bogut doesn't have to match Howard's numbers. Few do. He does, however, have to contain Dwight, keep him from taking over the game from the inside. If Bogut can stay out of foul trouble and continue his beastly board work, it gives the Warriors a chance in the paint.

Klay Thompson vs. James Harden: Harden owned the matchup last week, scoring a game-high 34 points, with seven rebounds and four assists. Thompson played one of sorriest games, with 5 points (on 2-of-10 shooting), four fouls and three turnovers. Klay was awful on Wednesday, but he rarely has poor back-to-back games.

David Lee vs. Terrence Jones: Lee was an All-Star last season, while Jones dreams of being an All-Star. Yet the Rockets power forward owned Lee last week, torching him for 16 points (11 in the game's first six minutes) and also grabbing 10 rebounds. Lee can't afford to have another 11-point, three-rebound night against Jones.

SERIES HISTORY

The Rockets have won 17 of the last 21 games between the teams.

INJURY UPDATE: Andre Iguodala (strained left hamstring), Jermaine O'Neal (right wrist surgery), Festus Ezeli (right knee surgery) and Ognjen Kuzmic (right pinkie surgery) are out.

Jeremy Lin (knee) has returned to action, and Chandler Parsons (back) is playing through pain. Greg Smith (knee) remains out. Rockets coach Kevin McHale is expected to miss the game, having a death in the family.

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