NBA Gameday: Eyes on guards when Warriors host Blazers

NBA Gameday: Eyes on guards when Warriors host Blazers

OAKLAND – There is just enough history to raise the emotional stakes whenever the Warriors and Trail Blazers meet, and that will be the case once again Saturday night.

That this game is at Oracle Arena only makes it that much better, as the venue is walking distance from the Oakland neighborhood where Portland guard Damian Lillard grew up and to which he remains closely connected.

The Warriors (23-4) and Blazers (13-15) waged fierce battle in the Western Conference semifinals last May, with the Warriors prevailing in five.

The Warriors, however, won’t forget that their worst loss last season was at the hands of the Blazers, a 137-105 mashing in Portland in which Lillard scored a career-high 51 points.


Warriors by 14


Stephen Curry vs. Lillard. Two of the best point guards in the league, and they generate riveting competition. The Oakland native always wants to show well in his hometown. But Curry considers Oracle his turf, and he fights to defend it. Lillard must win this battle for Portland to have a chance at victory.


Warriors: C Zaza Pachulia (R wrist contusion) is listed as probable. C/F David West (R hip contusion) is listed as probable.

Blazers: F Al-Farouq Aminu (back spasms) is listed as doubtful. C Festus Ezeli (L knee rehab) is listed as out.


Warriors: 8-2. Blazers: 4-6.


The Warriors triumphed in the first meeting this season, 127-104, on Nov. 1 at Moda Center in Portland. They‘ve won the last three and 12 of 15, including the last four in a row in Oakland.


Battling backcourts. It’s generally thought that the Warriors, with Klay Thompson and Curry, have the league’s best backcourt. Portland, with CJ McCollum and Lillard, may be No. 2. Because there is no pass-first point guard among the four, there is plenty of crossmatching when the teams meet.

Scoreboard pyrotechnics. The Warriors are No. 1 in field goals and scoring, but the Blazers are top-five in both categories. Portland, however, is dead last in defensive rating. This is one of those matchups where the teams could combine for 250 points.

Big Ed at the 4? With starter Aminu listed as doubtful, the Blazers project Ed Davis to start at power forward. Davis, at 6-10, 245 pounds, is appreciably larger than Aminu. Size tends not to matter much with 6-7 Draymond Green, who is only two days removed from defending 7-3 Kristaps Porzingis of the Knicks.

Cook gives injured Warriors 'huge boost' in anomalous loss

Cook gives injured Warriors 'huge boost' in anomalous loss

OAKLAND -- If Quinn Cook plays at anything close to the level he performed Friday night against the Kings, the Warriors should avoid any catastrophic stumbling in the absence of their top three scorers.

They stumbled plenty in a 98-93 loss to Sacramento, but not because of Cook. The two-way player who has spent most of the season with G-League Santa Cruz scored a team-high 25 points, shot 10-of-13 from the field and played respectable defense.

He did more than could have been reasonably expected.

“I felt like this was coming,” coach Steve Kerr said. “He was fantastic. He really lit it up and gave us a huge boost.”

The Warriors ran into problems elsewhere, shared among the usually reliable veterans who need to be particularly reliable in the absence of Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson.

Usual starters Draymond Green and Zaza Pachulia combined to shoot 6-of-20.

Usual reserves Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, David West and Nick Young shot a collective 13-of-39.

In the second half, when Warriors mustered only 34 points -- a season-low for any half -- the six vets combined to take 32 shots and missed 24.

Those are atrocious numbers and they explain what went wrong in a game that was there for the taking.

They’re also an anomaly.

“We just couldn’t get anything going,” Green said. “But we got some good shots. We got ‘Dre on a couple of pull-ups in the lane, I got a couple open shots, Nick got a couple open shots, Zaza got a couple open ones. D-West had one pop in and out. (Kevon Looney) had two pop in and out.

“We just got cold. But hopefully those shots will fall tomorrow.”

West, returning after missing four games with a cyst on his right arm, was 1-of-6 from the field. He came into this game as a 60.8-percent shooter this season.

Igoudala was 4-of-10; he shot 70 percent over the previous 10 games. Young was 5-of-15, well below his 44-percent shooting this season. Livingston’s 3-of-8 shooting is uncharacteristic of someone shooting at least 50 percent for four years running.

If history is any indication, Green (5-of-14) and Pachulia (1-of-6) are not going continue to miss at the rate they did in this game, the first this season in which the Warriors were without all three of their top scorers.

If history is any indication, the Warriors can’t be counted on to score 34 points on 27.3-percent shooting in the second half of a game.

“I loved how our guys battled,” Kerr said. “They really competed well and made some big plays. We just couldn’t get the ball to go down quite enough in the second half.”

That’s going to change, perhaps as soon as Saturday night in Phoenix, were the Suns are playing to lose.

So if Cook plays steady basketball, the Warriors will fall off and their fans won’t become a basket case while waiting for the three shooters. The Warriors surely believe that.

“He really showed up. I’ve been waiting on that Quinn,” Green said. “We needed that. It was great for him to come out and play like that. And most importantly, his shots were falling. Since he’s been playing (more often) he’s been playing well, but his shots weren’t really falling. But tonight, they fell for him.”

They won’t always fall at a rate of 77 percent. They won’t have to once his teammates drop in a few more of their own shots.

Casspi rolls ankle, leaves game vs Kings


Casspi rolls ankle, leaves game vs Kings

OAKLAND -- Omri Casspi sustained a sprained right ankle with 9:00 left in the second quarter of the Warriors-Kings game Friday night and did not return.

After dropping in a short hook shot with 9:04 left in the quarter, Casspi landed awkwardly, rolling his ankle and dropping to the floor clutching his lower leg. Down for a couple minutes, he eventually got up and limped into the locker room, accompanied by physical performance specialist Chelsea Lane.

Casspi played six minutes off the bench, producing 6 points, one assist and one rebound against his former team.

He joins Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Pat McCaw and Klay Thompson on the sideline.