Damion Lee

Pride will factor in Warriors-Clippers Game 6; DeMarcus Cousins update

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Tara Funk / NBC Sports Bay Area

Pride will factor in Warriors-Clippers Game 6; DeMarcus Cousins update

Editor’s note: Kerith Burke, NBC Sports Bay Area’s Warriors reporter, will take you inside the two-time defending NBA champions as only she can each Friday with the Ask Kerith Mailbag. Send her a question on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #askkerith

Tip-Off

Well ... hello from Los Angeles, the last place the Warriors wanted to be again.

The Clippers were the better team in Game 5, and now the series is back at their house. The Clippers have hope. Doc Rivers said Game 5 felt like the first time they were “us” in the series, meaning they were playing their game instead of letting the Warriors dictate things.

From the Warriors' perspective, it’s two punches in the mouth now in this series -- LA's Game 2 comeback from 31 points down, and Game 5's defensive lapses that dogged them from the beginning.

Draymond Green said postgame: “We just didn’t start the game with the type of defensive intensity that we need to, and then they got going. Then you’re stuck staying on more shooters instead of pulling in. We gave up 37 points in the first quarter, and that set the tone for the rest of the game.”

It’s tough to win close-out games when the other team is playing for its survival, and knowing the Rockets are waiting made it enticing to look ahead.

As the Warriors prepare for Game 6 (airing on NBC Sports Bay Area and the MyTeams app!), pride will be a big factor tonight.

Game On!

@sammymac21 Hey @KerithBurke, with the @andrewbogut experiment looking like a great move, could we see this continue for the next couple of seasons? Us Aussies get to watch him up close and personal in the NBL and then jump back to the NBA for the finals stretch? #askKerith

Andrew Bogut has been outstanding for the Warriors, and it’s possible other teams are looking at the situation and thinking they could try it, too. Teams copy what other teams do for success all the time, and if that means looking to Australia for talent when it’s time to add roster depth for postseason runs, now there is a blueprint.

Bogut deserves a ton of credit. His situation specifically is why this worked: His relationship with the Warriors, his familiarity with the players and schemes, his fitness level after the NBL season, and his willingness to uproot his life. I don’t think just anyone could have re-entered the NBA so seamlessly.

Bogut left the door open to doing the same thing next season, and even gave a little smile when he said it could start a trend. But no decisions are made yet. He’s going back to the Sydney Kings to play next season, and the Warriors will be a different team. Their needs at center might not be the same.

It’s a fun idea to picture Bogut getting a third go-round with Golden State, but that possibility is too far down the road to predict.

@cacavanah How is Demarcus doing. Would love to hear from him.

@shorespeak Where is DeMarcus? Rehabbing locally or other? Can we expect to see him on the bench/at the games or, if he doesn’t re-sign, have we simply seen the last of him?

Via IG, @ikman.preet: Is Boogie Cousins with the team and rehabbing?

DeMarcus Cousins has been with the Warriors at practice and film study. He’s been working out with team trainers. He’s around, and he’s being supported by his teammates as he goes through his quad injury.

He has not been available for interviews, so I don’t want to speak to his emotions. We probably can guess what it’s like to have an injury snatch away the moment you’ve been working for all season.

As for DeMarcus’ future with the Warriors, my last mailbag touched on that, and included some insight from Warriors Insider Monte Poole.

@Jwonder64 Wondering why we don’t see more of Damion Lee?

Damion is a two-way player for the Warriors, meaning he spends time between the G-League and the NBA. When the Warriors signed Bogut with the 15th and final roster spot ahead of the playoffs, Damion’s chance to earn that spot ended.

He’s not on the Warriors' playoff roster, and the G-League season is over, so that’s why he feels out of sight. The Warriors like Damion, and he's still around the team in an unofficial capacity.

@MusicMost Hey KB, Ron Adams is known as a our defensive guru. His success undeniable and well credited. Why isn't he mentioned for open coaching jobs? Does he have an interest? Thanks. #askKerith

There’s something to be said for being a highly regarded assistant coach for decades. You get to go about your business without being the face of a team or dealing with the daily media obligations.

He certainly could be a head coach if he wanted to, but I think Ron Adams has carved a nice niche for himself in roles that challenge him without all the other “stuff.”

Adams is 72 now, and in the link above, he describes his reasoning for taking the assistant path in the NBA. His job with the Warriors, however long he’d like it to last, is expected to be his last.

Via IG, @mixpixels: #askKerith Watched your Roadtrippin’ podcast with Quinn Cook and Austin Rivers. Good stuff. My Q: Do you get to have a special handshake with Quinn? Or is that a teammate thing?

We do not have a special handshake! But Quinn is a creature of habit, and now I am too so nothing changes on game day, so we have something.

When I’m in the hallway at halftime waiting for my Jarron Collins interview, Quinn always gives me a regular-person handshake when he walks by. It must be with the right hand, with the proper slap.

Via IG, @bosleyjeff: What is next for Oracle Arena?

Oracle still will be an entertainment venue once the Warriors relocate to Chase Center.

When I recently drove by the arena, I noticed the band Maná is playing Oracle on Nov. 30. My high school Spanish teacher, Sra. Rodriguez, loved them, and she used their songs for vocabulary lessons. I remember the song “Rayando el Sol,” and that happens to be the name of Maná's tour!

High Five

This week’s goes out to the Pacific Ocean. Klay Thompson jumped in the water before Game 4, and it was like Prince's version of the purifying powers of Lake Minnetonka. Klay scored 27 points in the first half, starting the game 7-of-7 shooting from the field.

Klay tends to perform well in LA, he’s a SoCal kid, and if he comes up big in Game 6, “Did you jump in the ocean?” for sure will be a postgame question. Maybe he should take some beach sand home in a little bottle.

Follow Kerith on Twitter @KerithBurke and on Instagram @warriorskerith, and, of course, watch her on NBC Sports Bay Area’s Warriors coverage all season.

Warriors’ bench, finally given chance, shows signs of life vs. Pelicans

Warriors’ bench, finally given chance, shows signs of life vs. Pelicans

For the better part of two seasons, the Warriors have been searching for a way to fortify their bench unit. 

Twenty one months ago, they spent a combined $7 million on Nick Young and Omri Casspi. By season's end, Young's minutes dwindled and Casspi was cut to make way for Quinn Cook. 

Last summer, the signed Jonas Jerebko, pairing the journeyman forward with a host of young, but unproven players, resulting in this season's iteration of the bench unit ranking 29th in points per game entering Tuesday night. 

However, after a defining performance in Tuesday's 112-103 win over the Pelicans, a game the bench scored a season-high 65 points with Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant resting and Stephen Curry injured, Golden State may have found an unexpected push heading into the postseason. 

While he didn't finish with the biggest statline of the night, rookie guard Jacob Evans, who finished with 11 points, five rebounds and three blocks, may have had the most important performance of his career.

Ten months ago, Warriors general manager Bob Myers selected Evans with the No. 28 overall pick in part because he thought Evans could contribute right away. Instead, Evans played just 142 minutes total entering Tuesday, spending most of his time in the G League, averaging 11.3 points, 3.4 rebounds, with the Santa Cruz Warriors. 

When he was with the big club, the extent of his action was spent with Golden State assistant Willie Green, shooting in empty arenas two hours before tip-off, working to get more arc on his flat jumper. On Tuesday, Evans got the news he was starting following a shooting workout by assistant Jaron Collins. Evans managed to keep the news from the 15-20 family members who were in attendance from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Evans' hometown, which is more 81 miles away from New Orleans. 

"I was a little nervous but I was like 'Just go out there and leave it out on the floor,'" Evans said. "Just try and play as hard as I can and go out there and do what I've been working on the whole year and just play ball."

"He's earned it," Cook added. "He's earned every bit of what he's getting and he was ready and contributed right away and I'm so happy for him." 

While Evans' coming out party seemingly got his season on track, Cook's 19 points, two rebounds and three assists continued his hot streak in recent weeks. Over his last 11 games, Cook is averaging 10.5 points on 48.7 percent from the field, rectifying a rough start to the season. 

"Just keeping my rhythm," Cook said. "Putting in work before and after practice. We got a great rhythm going into these playoffs. So for me, it's just staying aggressive and keep trying to be a great leader out there for everybody and it's been a fun stretch." 

Cook's play Tuesday night coincided with perhaps the best performance of the season from two-way guard Damion Lee.

Lee, who entered Tuesday averaging 4.3 points and 1.7 rebounds, finished with 20 points, seven rebounds and an assist. Last season, Lee spent much of his time in Santa Cruz before signing a pair of 10-day contracts with the Atlanta Hawks, eventually signing a two-way deal with Warriors last summer. Prior to the season, he married Curry's sister Sydell, adding himself into the Curry patriarch of shooters.

Following Tuesday's win, during a postgame interview with Kerith Burke, Lee was mobbed by assistant Mike Brown, who told Lee, and the camera in front him, "them Curry's can shoot." Lee, feigning a smile, proclaimed "I'm a Lee," a sign of the guard's hope to find his niche in the league. 

"For me coming into this year, it was knowing that I'm on a two-way and understanding that if I get converted then I do but if they pick up someone then I won't but just being around, picking up all this knowledge, this experience," Lee said. "Hopefully trying to make a deep playoff run, its something that I can cherish forever and also, with this pedestal allowing me to showcase myself on the NBA level." 

[RELATED: Biggest threat to Warriors?]

Over the last two seasons, Golden State's bench has never averaged more than 32 points per game, reaching no higher than 23rd in the league. Entering Tuesday, they were the NBA's 29th ranked bench. But, four hours later, the Warriors young, unproven second unit had leafrogged Oklahoma City for the 28th ranked bench. At just the right time, the bench unit showed some life.

“They were great," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "It was really fun to see Jacob (Evans) play tonight. He has put a lot of work in the G League and had a lot of family members here tonight, so it felt good to give him the start and I thought he took advantage of it by having a nice game. Damion Lee had another big game for us. He has done a hell of a job. Quinn (Cook) is still in a really good groove; it is nice to see. So (we received) a lot of good production from our young guys.”

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in win 112-103 over Pelicans

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AP

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in win 112-103 over Pelicans

BOX SCORE

With Kevin Durant sick, Klay Thompson resting and Stephen Curry injuring himself early Tuesday night at Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, the Golden State Warriors (56-24) got their best bench performance of the season in a 112-103 win over the Pelicans (33-48). 

In the Warriors' sixth straight win, the bench unit combined for 65 points, helping Golden State stay in contention for the league's second-best record. 

Here are the takeaways from Tuesday's game. 

Steph's Scare

Curry went down early in the second half as a result of two words the Warriors never want to hear: rolled ankle. 

While the Warriors say that it's a mild foot sprain and that he was sat out for 'precautionary reasons,' the question remains, with two games left in the season and a first seed wrapped up: Why even play Curry in the first place?

That's a question for Steve Kerr and co. going forward, and it will certainly have ramifications for Wednesday's game in Memphis. 

Jacob Evans shows signs of growth

When Warriors general manager Bob Myers drafted Evans, the hope was that the rookie could find an instant role on the team as a defender. Instead, he toiled for much of the season in the G League, sparking some whispers about his long-term viability. 

That changed Tuesday when Evans, playing 90 minutes from his hometown of Baton Rouge, finished with 11 points, five rebounds and three steals. 

It's been a long season for Evans, but if Tuesday was any indication, he could still have a future in this league. 

[RELATED: Magic quits as Lakers president, and seems thrilled about it]

Damion Lee keeps shooting

The Splash Brother-In-Law poured in 20 points, on 7-of-13 shooting from the field. 

As Golden State's two-way player, Lee has played well during his time with the Warriors, providing quality shooting. Earlier this season, he played well enough to garner buzz about possibly getting his contract converted to a guaranteed deal for the postseason. 

For now, with the season finale Wednesday evening, Lee will be looking to continue to add to his highlight tape for the summer.