Warriors

Is Nick Young ready for the bright lights?

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USATSI

Is Nick Young ready for the bright lights?

OAKLAND -- Gone, at least temporarily, is Nick Young’s lot as the untamed mustang running with thoroughbreds among on the Warriors’ roster. Time to dial back the wild, the coming off the bench and launching 25-footers like wads of paper toward a trash bin.

Young is the only healthy shooting guard on a team chasing a championship, and with that comes more responsibility than he has known at any time during a 10-year career spent mostly with floundering teams that spend the final weeks of the season easing into an early summer daze.

But with All-Star shooting guard Klay Thompson, in many ways the rock of the Warriors lineup, out for a couple weeks, most of his job of scoring and defending falls to Young, whose 10-year career is defined mostly by streaky shooting, a lot of losing and giving himself a nickname.

Never before has Swaggy P -- or his alternate spelling, Swagy P -- been described as “the rock” of his team. The Warriors aren’t asking that of him now. He will start, though, and the Warriors want him playing each possession at both ends with a little more detail because they have no other option.

The next few games are Young’s dress rehearsal for the postseason. He says he is ready, despite his unsteady start Wednesday against the Lakers, his former team.

“Just thinking too much,” he said of a scoreless first half during which he missed all four of his shots. “Just had to get out of my head, and the guys helped me. KD (Kevin Durant) told me, ‘You’ve been a scorer in this league forever. Just do that. Don’t worry about what’s going to happen.’ ”

Young came out in the second half and scored 18 points. He was 6-of-9 from the field, 3-of-6 from deep. He added three rebounds, an assist and a steal. After posting a minus-9 in 11 first-half minutes, he was a team-best plus-16 in 20 minutes in the second half.

His 10-point third quarter, ignited by a 3-point bomb 29 seconds into the second half, was the catalyst for the pivotal point of a game that was tied at the half. The Warriors went in front early in the quarter and rolled to a 117-106 victory.

“It’s not just because he’s making shots, but he’s providing the spacing,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr explained. “You could see the Lakers were loading up on every play in the paint. We needed that spacing and knocking down those threes in the second half opened the game up a little bit.”

His mind set free, Young he performed exquisitely while also conforming just enough to at least temporarily keep the doubters at bay.

He even allowed himself a little shimmy and body lean, flashing three fingers to signal he had drained a triple.

“I love when Nick’s out there enjoying the game that way,” Durant said. “It just brings different energy to our team. He was excited tonight and hopefully, we continue to build on that. He played extremely hard on both sides of the ball, and I think that’s what got his jump shot going.”

The Warriors need to see Young make an impact in March, and they really need to see it now, with Stephen Curry out for at least another week and Thompson out even longer.

Young concedes that making adjustments -- coming off the bench on a team with established All-Stars -- has been challenging. He wants to be himself, let the mustang out, but he sometimes needs help in reading his teammates.

“They think I can’t . . . that Swaggy can’t get in his head,” he said. “But we’ve got so many stars over here that I’m trying play the perfect role. I don’t want to mess up. Even them guys tell me to ‘be Swaggy. Dance out there. Be you.’ ”

Well, sometimes, yes. Swaggy plays fine in the good times. That was hard to know for sure, though, because they’ve been rare. Swaggy being Swaggy in defeat is a bad look that wouldn’t wear well even on a tolerant culture of the Warriors.

There were many around the NBA that wondered last summer why the defending champions would use their $5.2 million midlevel exception on a player with a reputation for being a free-spirited individual and a one-dimensional player.

Young had been to the playoffs twice in 10 seasons, once as a rookie with the Wizards, playing all of nine minutes over four games and once more with the Clippers in 2011-12.

How would this dude, with his undecorated history, fit with his new task-oriented teammates so accustomed to winning at historical levels?

“I was over on that side, counting down the days,” Young recalled of his four losing seasons with the Lakers. “With 10 more games left, they probably would have sat me our or something. I would have had an early vacation, being out in April.

“But now I’m trying to play until June. My birthday is June 1. I’m trying to meet that mark and still be out there.”

Toward the end of Young’s postgame interview session, he began a dialogue with teammate JaVale McGee. Young was in front of his locker, McGee in the shower, out of view. The two are supposedly collaborating on an album, with McGee producing the Young rapping. They were shouting about studio time.

It was so, well, Swaggy P. He sees himself as a star.

The Finals are scheduled to begin May 31. For the Warriors to participate, they’re going to need Young to have some star moments. This is going to be a symbiotic relationship for however long it lasts. The better he is, the better they can be.

Kevin Durant, New York City 'match made not in heaven,' Michael Wilbon says

Kevin Durant, New York City 'match made not in heaven,' Michael Wilbon says

Kevin Durant has had a prickly relationship with the media this season.

But if the Warriors superstar thinks this is bad, he should probably scratch the New York Knicks off his free agency list.

The New York media is ruthless, and that's something the two-time NBA Finals MVP may not be able to handle if he joins the Knicks.

ESPN's Michael Wilbon doesn't see Durant fitting in Gotham.

"I think Kevin Durant and New York City are a match made not in heaven," Wilbon said on First Take on Friday morning. "It's OK, Kevin is a fairly thin-skinned guy. You can be that. But do you function best in New York? Look, Kyrie [Irving] grew up in metropolitan New York, he understands the mood, the tenor, the volume. I mean, Kevin, that's not his thing from my observation."

The popular rumor over the last few months has Durant and Irving declining their player options with their respective teams and joining forces on the Knicks.

[RELATED: Players believe KD will go to Knicks]

In a recent interview with the New York Post, Knicks president Steve Mills sounded pretty confident that his team will have a big offseason.

We tend to agree with Wilbon on this one, though. Based on what we've seen in the last few months, Durant doesn't seem suited for New York. If the Knicks lose games early in his tenure, the media and talk shows will crush him. If he doesn't bring a title to The Big Apple, they won't let him live it down.

Stay right where you are, KD. In more ways than one, you've got it pretty good in the Bay Area.

Watch Andrew Bogut do little bit of everything for Warriors in Game 3 win

Watch Andrew Bogut do little bit of everything for Warriors in Game 3 win

Programming note: Watch the pregame edition of Warriors Outsiders on Sunday morning at 11, streaming live on the MyTeams app.

Andrew Bogut had a great game Thursday night in Los Angeles.

Scratch that: Andrew Bogut had a terrific game.

In the Warriors' 132-105 win over the Clippers in Game 3 of their NBA playoff series, the 34-year old recorded eight points, 14 rebounds, five assists, one steal and one block. In 25 minutes, he was plus-24.

The No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 draft was instrumental in getting Kevin Durant off to a hot start:

Bogut led the Dubs with four "screen assists," according to NBA.com.

The 2015 All-Defensive selection also made a signifcant impact on the defensive end:

Klay Thompson was cold to start the game. He missed his first four shots.

[RELATEDWhy Iguodala hopes Looney leaves Warriors in free agency]

Bogut helped change that, though, a couple minutes into the second quarter:

After practice Wednesday, coach Steve Kerr said the Warriors are lucky to have Bogut. On Thursday, you saw exactly why.

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