After long journey with Warriors, Clark now Kerr's reliable bench weapon

After long journey with Warriors, Clark now Kerr's reliable bench weapon

OAKLAND – Ian Clark rarely knows when he’ll enter a game. Might be the first quarter. Could be the second. Sometimes, it’s after halftime.

As for playing time, Clark might get five minutes. Or he might get 25.

But bet on him to play. The fourth-year guard has worked himself into a reliable weapon for the Warriors, someone coach Steve Kerr can summon from a warm spot the bench and have faith he’ll be rewarded.

Clark came through once again Saturday night at Oracle Arena, pouring in a career-high 23 points in 21 minutes in a 135-90 smashing of the Portland Trail Blazers.

“I've come a long way,” Clark said. “For me, it’s just building confidence in myself. Not knowing where your minutes are going to come from earlier in my career, until now having a path and a semi-idea of where I’m going to get in the game and who I’m going to be out there with.”

Missing only three of the team’s 28 games this season, and one was because he was injured, Clark has filled the void created by the departure of veteran guard Leandro Barbosa, an offensive sparkplug who spent the last two seasons with the Warriors.

Clark, however, is a more versatile player, able to run point guard if necessary.

It has been quite the journey. Clark’s first contact with the Warriors was as a member of their team in the 2013 Las Vegas Summer League, where he was teammates with Kent Bazemore and a future All-Star named Draymond Green.

Clark was named MVP of the summer league and was signed by Utah. He spent much of 2013-14 and 2014-15 bouncing between the Jazz and the D-League. Before reuniting with the Warriors as a free agent in September 2015.

He’s been a Warrior ever since.

“To see where he’s at today, where you can play him at the point?” said Green, who recalled Clark is merely a spot-u shooter. “He can make plays off the bounce. He can make plays for others. He continues to work and work. It’s amazing to see.”

Clark has scored in double figures six times this season, including three games in which he scored at least 20 points. He’s the team’s leading scorer off the bench, averaging 7.3 points per game.

On this night, Clark even started “getting into his bag,” as phrased by Stephen Curry, referring to Clark dropping a crossover that left Portland big man Noah Vonleh stumbling off a cliff.

“That was an amazing move,” said Green, who along with those on the Warriors bench danced and howled in celebration.

“He’s getting more consistent minutes now,” Kerr said. “He’s kind of taken Barbosa’s role from last year. He’s playing with a lot of confidence. He’s an excellent shooter, but he’s really improved his in-between game. Makes a lot of floaters, puts the ball on the floor and he’s a very smart player.

“We’re thrilled with Ian.”

Jordan Bell wants, needs 'all the credit' for DeMarcus Cousins' debut

Jordan Bell wants, needs 'all the credit' for DeMarcus Cousins' debut

Over a six-game stretch from Dec. 19 to Dec. 29, Jordan Bell scored a total of two points and played a combined 25 minutes.

On New Year's Eve at Phoenix, the Warriors big man racked up 10 points, six rebounds, three blocks and two assists in 15 minutes. After the win that night, Bell explained the reason for his breakout game.

"Boogie gave me a lot of confidence yesterday in open gym -- me just kicking his ass,” Bell told reporters. “It gave me a lot of confidence. I think Steve (Kerr) saw it yesterday, too.

"He saw the confidence was up. So he decided to play me a little bit today."

Speaking of Boogie, he made his season and Warriors debut Friday night at the Clippers. The four-time NBA All-Star registered 14 points (5-of-11 shooting overall, 3 of 4 on 3s), six rebounds, three assists, one steal and one block. He committed one turnover and fouled out in 15 minutes.

[RELATEDWith Boogie back, GM Bob Myers updates Warriors' open roster spot]

Overall, it was a successful night for DeMarcus Cousins. And according to Bell ...

... Bell deserves some love.

From Marcus Thompson of The Athletic:

“Oh yeah. Give me all the credit,” Bell said. “I want all the credit. I need it.”

Why is Bell taking credit for Cousins’ debut? Because he was the one matched up with Cousins in all the scrimmages to get the Warriors’ new big man ready to play. And Bell purposefully tried to run Cousins off the court. Bell defended Cousins the whole 94 feet, using his youth and superior athleticism to pressure Cousins. When Bell’s team had the ball, he sprinted up the floor to force Cousins to chase him.

All game. Every time. Each play. Bell did his part to get Cousins running.

Here's a good example of Cousins on the move (and keep an eye on how excited Bell was on the bench when Boogie got the ball):

Bell wasn't in the rotation Friday, but he made the most of his opportunity when he entered the game for the final four minutes -- making all three of his shots, plus an assist.

No word on if Cousins is taking the credit for that ...

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller

Warriors Under Review: DeMarcus Cousins, Draymond Green excel vs. Clippers


Warriors Under Review: DeMarcus Cousins, Draymond Green excel vs. Clippers

LOS ANGELES -- Boogie Night went well for the Warriors, exceedingly so for DeMarcus Cousins and just enough for his new teammates.

The Warriors went full junkyard dog in the second half, taking apart the Clippers in a 112-94 win Friday night at Staples Center.

It was the seventh straight victory for the Warriors, and also their NBA-best sixth in a row on the road.

Here are some of the positive and negatives taken from the game:


The glory of Cuz

The Warriors, players and coaches, had only an idea about how Cousins would fare in his first game. They thought he’d be OK as long as he didn’t try to do too much. Turns out, Boogie packed a lot of good in his 15 minutes: 14 points (5-of-11 shooting, 3-of-4 from deep, 1-of-2 from the line), six rebounds, three assists, one block and one steal. He was plus-21. Walking off the floor after fouling out, he had to realize he met some expectations and exceeded others.

He did a lot of reaching and got too impetuous at times, but in the context of a preseason game -- that’s what it was for Cousins -- he was outstanding.


Draymond stays sharp

Remember when Draymond Green was giving away the ball every third blink of an eye? He committed 25 turnovers in the first six games of the season, 13 in his first four games after missing 11 games with a toe injury. The undersized power forward has turned it around quite nicely. He had a team-high nine assists and one turnover against the Clips. This was after an extraordinary 14-1 ratio against New Orleans on Wednesday. Over his last six games, he's had 60 assists and seven turnovers.

Green has settled down and cut back on passes that were high-risk or even reckless. His point forward skills are in a beautiful groove.


KD’s first half

If not for Kevin Durant, the Warriors would have gone into intermission with one turnover. They would have ended the game with a season-low five. KD, however, committed five in the first half. A couple went directly into the hands of the Clippers. He was playing as if anxious or desperate, perhaps trying to force things in hopes of benefitting Cousins. He came out in the second half, kept it simple and committed no turnovers. Durant finished with five, half of the team’s total for the game.

Though Durant’s passing has been a highlight all season, he sometimes gets too adventurous. He did in the first half, did not in the second. He figured it out.


Second-half lockup

After sauntering through most of the first half, giving up 20 points to Tobias Harris and allowing the Clippers to be within a point (52-51), the Warriors after halftime went into lockup mode. Harris was limited to eight points in the second half, all on free throws. He was 0-of-8 from the field. LA shot 33.3 percent over the final 24 minutes, with Green and Cousins being especially effective.

The Warriors can take over most games with a few minutes of stifling defense. Holding LA to one field goal in the first five minutes of the second half qualifies.


Curry’s triple trouble

A pattern is emerging within the 3-point shooting of Stephen Curry. Every fourth of fifth game, his shot becomes fallible. This was such a night. He was 3-of-11 (27.3 percent) from beyond the arc. He was not alone in this regard; the Warriors were 9-of-37 (24.3 percent) from deep. But this was the fifth time in 23 games since Curry returned to the lineup on Dec. 1 that he shot less than 30 percent from deep.

When Curry misses three of every four triples he takes, it stands out. Truth is, most NBA players would pray to have an “off” shooting night every fifth game.