NBA Gameday: Three Warriors questionable against Nuggets

NBA Gameday: Three Warriors questionable against Nuggets

OAKLAND – The Warriors officially welcome 2017 on Monday night, when they face the Denver Nuggets at Oracle Arena.

The Warriors (29-5), who have won their last seven home games and are 14-2 in Oakland this season, could be without key reserve Shaun Livingston, who is coping with slight injuries to his elbow and hip. Livingston did, however, participate in shootaround Monday morning at the team facility.

The Nuggets (14-19) have been playing better in recent weeks, winning five of eight games, but are coming off a 124-122 home loss to the lowly Philadelphia 76ers on Friday night.


Warriors by 15


Zaza Pachulia vs. Nikola Jokic: Pachulia has had his moments, but he’ll need to be on his game against Jokic, the 21-year-old who is establishing himself as one of the league’s better young centers. Jokic has been on an impressive run lately, averaging 21.7 points (on 63.4-percent shooting), 8.3 rebounds and 6.3 assists over the last three games. Pachulia will need to be smart and stay out of foul trouble in an effort to contain the 6-foot-11 Serbian.


Warriors: G Shaun Livingston (L hip and R elbow contusions) and C JaVale McGee (illness) were listed as questionable, but are available to play according to Steve Kerr. G Pat McCaw (flu-like symptoms) is out.

Nuggets: G Jameer Nelson (abdominal strain) and F Darrell Arthur (L knee soreness) are listed as questionable.


Warriors: 9-1. Nuggets: 6-4.


The Warriors won the first of three meetings this season, 125-101, on Nov. 10 in Denver and have won seven of the last nine against the Nuggets.


1) The Glass Wars: The Nuggets are the league’s No. 2 rebounding team, having been beaten in that category only four times this season. They are particularly effective on the offensive glass, an area in which the Warriors have been vulnerable (they allow more than any other team). The Warriors don’t have to win the glass battle, but they can’t afford to get clobbered.

2) No charity: Another strength of this Denver team is its uncanny ability to get to the free throw line. Part of it is undoubtedly due to relentless work on the offensive glass, but the Nuggets also attack the paint with frequency. Their 26.6 free throws per game is tops in the NBA.

3) Enver Nuggets: Denver’s Michael Malone, a former Warriors assistant, is considered a defensive-minded coach. There is no sign of it thus far, as the Nuggets rank 27th in defensive rating. If they can’t put together stretches of sound D, the Warriors will blow them off the floor.

Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue taking 'step back from coaching for the time being'


Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue taking 'step back from coaching for the time being'

The Cavaliers are going to be without head coach Tyronn Lue indefinitely.

On Monday morning, Lue issued the following statement through the team:

"After many conversations with our doctors and Koby and much thought given to what is best for the team and my health, I need to step back from coaching for the time being and focus on trying to establish a stronger and healthier foundation from which to coach for the rest of the season.

I have had chest pains and other troubling symptoms, compounded by a loss of sleep, throughout the year. Despite a battery of tests, there have been no conclusions as to what the exact issue is.

While I have tried to work through it, the last thing I want is for it to affect the team. I am going to use this time to focus on a prescribed routine and medication, which has previously been difficult to start in the midst of a season. My goal is to come out of it a stronger and healthier version of myself so I can continue to lead this team to the Championship we are all working towards.

I greatly appreciate Dan Gilbert, Koby Altman, our medical team and the organization's support throughout."

Lue has had to leave multiple games early this season due to his health.

Get well, Tyronn.

Quinn Cook states his case for spot on Warriors playoff roster

Quinn Cook states his case for spot on Warriors playoff roster

Because it’s only two games against two of the worst teams in the NBA, it’s prudent to resist the temptation to fall in love with Quinn Cook.

Putting up Stephen Curry numbers in consecutive games does not make one Stephen Curry.

It’s impossible, though, not to clearly understand why the Warriors have consistently expressed faith in Cook, the two-way point guard who has spent three years trying to make an NBA team.

Two fine games are enough, though, for the coaching staff to recommend adding him to the postseason roster. It’s wise to have a contingency in case Curry has to miss any of the games that matter most, and the Warriors are a smart bunch.

Cook on Saturday told reporters in Phoenix that the Warriors have not addressed the possibility of being on the postseason roster. That doesn’t mean they aren’t thinking about it.

“He’s proven that he can compete at this level,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr told reporters Saturday night in Phoenix. “The last couple games, you’re seeing what he can do. He’s a great shooter. We’ve known that."

Cook scored, on back-to-back nights, 25 and 28 points, shooting 70 percent (21-of-30) from the field, including 71.4 percent (10-of-14) from deep. That’s Curry-type quality when he’s on a roll. Cook also handled the ball well, recorded seven assists and was pesky enough on defense to nab five steals.

“Quinn is showing the world that he is an NBA player,” Draymond Green said.

Cook’s 10 3-pointers over the past two games are more than anybody not named Curry, Durant or Thompson have drained over a similar stretch -- and only Nick Young among the team’s reserves have made more over any single month.

The Warriors, it just so happens, are dead last in 3-pointers made by reserves, averaging 2.0 per game, with Young accounting for 1.5 per game.

Cook is showing he might be able to help with this.

Kerr loves 3-point shooters. General manager Bob Myers is fond of saying he can never have too many shooters.

The Warriors are discovering they can’t have too many capable point guards, particularly when Cook is proving that he, like Curry, also is comfortable playing off the ball. Pairing Cook with Shaun Livingston, the primary backup to Curry, is a nice option to have.

“I’ve said all along,” Green said. “I sit here and watch so many other teams play and I wonder, ‘How is Quinn Cook a two-way player?' And then you’ve got guys in the league that can’t dribble with their left hand, or can’t go left, can’t go right, but you’ve got a guy like that as a two-way player.

“So I’m happy for him. I pray that he gets rewarded and gets what he deserves.”

Cook had brief trial runs with the Pelicans, as a rookie, and the Mavericks last season. He played a total of 14 games with the two teams. He has played 21 with the Warriors, seven as a starter, but only in the last two has he looked entirely comfortable in his role and with these teammates.

With Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Curry out, the Warriors need Cook to score. He knows he needs to score. He is scoring. And doing a few other things, too.

“Playing in the NBA is something that I’ve dreamed of my whole life,” Cook said after his 28-point performance in a win over the Suns. “I can’t really put it into words, just being able to put on an NBA jersey night in and night out, practice with an NBA team every day, has been my goal since I can remember. I’m just trying to get better every day and live in the moment. I’m just trying to win games. I’m trying to help out as much as possible, whether it’s getting guys shots, playing defense, shooting the ball.

“Lately the ball’s been going in a little bit. But with three All-Stars out, I’ve got to step up. I’m just taking it game by game and competing night in and night out.”

Sometime early next month, if not late this month, the Warriors expect to have their starting backcourt. Curry and Thompson will have returned before the playoffs begin April 14-15, and both will need to be available if for reasonable chance to repeat as champs.

But Cook is making his case for inclusion. He’ll get another test Monday night in San Antonio, where Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is sure to throw at Cook a few wrinkles he may not have seen, but the Warriors have seen enough to know he can help.

“He’s a good fit for us, too,” Kerr said. “It’s not just his ability. It’s his maturity. He’s very professional, does whatever is asked, the guys love him. They want to go to war with him.

“He’s a guy. He’s an NBA guy. We’re lucky to have him.”

That’s not an demand, or even a preference. To add Cook to the roster, the Warriors would have to shed one of their 15 players currently on a standard NBA contract.

But somewhere among Kerr’s words, I believe I see an endorsement.