Warriors

Warriors' Steve Kerr makes odd request of Steph Curry in NBA playoffs

Warriors' Steve Kerr makes odd request of Steph Curry in NBA playoffs

OAKLAND — Steve Kerr’s latest request of Steph Curry is short, simple and initially puzzling: Let ‘em score.

Three words, easily understood, but completely against the competitive instincts of an elite NBA player conditioned to accept defense as an essential part of the game.

Kerr isn’t telling Curry to neglect defense. Rather, the coach is advising his superstar to weigh his overall value to the Warriors in the NBA playoffs against the significance of committing fouls in hopes of preventing two points.

“Sometimes, he just gets in the habit of trying to strip the ball,” Kerr said Tuesday after practice. “So, more than anything, it’s just about trying to get him past that habit. I keep telling him how valuable he is. I’d much rather he just got out of the guy’s way and gave him a layup and kept playing.

“He’s much more valuable than two points. And we’ve got plenty of help; our defense is predicated on help.”

This, in the big picture, makes sense. While the Warriors seek to close out the Clippers in Game 5 of their first-round series Wednesday, advancing likely means getting a dose of potent Houston.

Anyone care to imagine Curry on the bench with foul trouble against the Rockets?

Curry’s impact against Los Angeles was neutralized by foul trouble in Games 3 and 4. Though having him on the bench for long stretches, saddled with foul trouble, is not ideal in this series, it would invite disaster should the Warriors advance and face Houston.

After committing four or more fouls just four times over the final 27 games of the regular season, Curry has been whistled at least that often in every game against LA. Picking up five fouls in Game 3, including his fourth early in the third quarter, limited him to 20 minutes.

So Curry, prior to Game 4, put a message on his shoes, “No Reach” -- a reminder to avoid a tendency that usually is his quickest route to foul trouble.

“I have confidence in my hand-eye coordination and hand speed,” Curry said. “That’s how I get steals usually, by being quick. But that’s how I get fouls, too, so I’ve got to balance both of them.

“The ones I’ve had trouble with in this series are ones that I shouldn’t even be in that situation to begin with. There’s help behind the play. I’m not even involved in the play, really. I’m just kind of lunging at it. That’s just a lack of focus.

“We could nitpick each one of them and understand exactly why. But at the end of the day, I’ve got to continue to stay on the floor on our normal rotations and not foul.”

There was progress in Game 4 insofar as Curry generally avoided reaching. And when he committed his third foul with 4:16 left in the first half, Kerr stayed with him.

Curry rewarded the coach by playing the rest of the half and the entire third quarter without a whistle. He played 35 minutes, committing four fouls.

Moreover, the Warriors won both games.

[RELATED: Beverley explains why he doesn't talk trash to Curry]

“If he’s got a couple fouls already, he should be able to play with those fouls,” Kerr said. “I’ve always trusted him. Since I’ve been here, I’ve generally played him with two fouls in the first half or three in the third quarter. I believe in letting a guy go, letting him play, a star player like that especially. The second half was a great sign that he’s kind of made it past that habit.”

The Warriors would like to think so.

They’d like to believe that building better habits in this series will make them stronger in the next one. History has shown they are strongest with Curry on the floor.

Warriors to use Ky Bowman, Draymond Green in D'Angelo Russell's place

Warriors to use Ky Bowman, Draymond Green in D'Angelo Russell's place

The Warriors got some bad news when D'Angelo Russell's MRI confirmed a sprained right thumb that will keep him out of the lineup for at least two weeks, but their coach actually was a bit relieved.

"I was concerned that it was going to be worse," Steve Kerr told the media Saturday, "so a couple weeks, you know, we can handle. If this had been something more severe, we would have been in some real trouble. So, we'll deal with it and I'm glad it's not worse. We look forward to getting him back, but in the meantime, we've got four games on the road. We've got to figure out a way to hold down the fort."

Golden State will play the first of those four consecutive road games Sunday in New Orleans against the short-handed Pelicans, and Kerr has a plan for how the Warriors will fill the point guard spot in Russell's absence.

"Draymond [Green] will play a lot of point, and Ky [Bowman] will have the ball in his hands quite a bit," Kerr said. "We're down to nine players, and really only two real guards I would say, with Jordan [Poole] and Ky. So our wings are going to have to handle the ball quite a bit, and Draymond is really good in a facilitating role anyway, so Draymond will handle the ball quite a bit."

Bowman, who is on a two-way contract, didn't seem phased by the promotion.

"I just go out there and play my role," Bowman said. "That's scoring, that's defense ... just play my role."

The Warriors didn't expect to rely on Bowman as much as they have in the early part of the season, but they've had to out of necessity with the injuries to Russell, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. Despite being a consistent member of the rotation, he conceded that people ask him more about his teammates than his own experience.

"What are the players like, really," Bowman replied when questioned as to what fans ask him. "What is Draymond like. That's what everybody wants to know."

[RELATED: Slew of Warriors’ injuries hinders young core’s development]

Perhaps they'll have some different questions for him over the next couple weeks.

Warriors vs. Pelicans watch guide: Lineups, injuries, player usage

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Warriors vs. Pelicans watch guide: Lineups, injuries, player usage

Sooner or later, the Warriors eventually would run into an opponent keeping doctors as busy as they are. That will be the case Sunday afternoon in New Orleans when they face Pelicans.

Pregame coverage on NBC Sports Bay Area begins at 3 p.m. PT, with tipoff from Smoothie King Center scheduled for 4:10.

Even with an injury list that runs seven deep, the wounded Warriors (2-11) might not find a better opportunity to snap a losing streak that has reached six games. Their first win of the season was a 134-123 triumph on Oct. 28 at New Orleans.

The Pelicans (3-9) have seen their roster diminished by more than half, leaving them without at least three starters, as well as three more rotation players. Of their top 10 players, only point guard Jrue Holiday and shooting guard E’twaun Moore are healthy.

PROJECTED LINEUPS

Warriors

F Eric Paschall
F Draymond Green
C Willie Cauley-Stein
G Glenn Robinson III
G Ky Bowman

Pelicans

F Kenrich Williams
F Nicolo Melli
C Jason Hayes
G E’twaun Moore
G Jrue Holiday

INJURY REPORT

Warriors: G Stephen Curry (left hand fracture), G Jacob Evans III (left adductor strain), G Damion Lee (right hand non-displaced fracture), F Kevon Looney (neuropathy), F Alen Smailagic (right ankle sprain) and G Klay Thompson (left ACL rehab) are listed as out.

Pelicans: G Frank Jackson (left neck contusion) and G JJ Redick (left great toe sprain) are listed as questionable. F/C Derrick Favors (lower back spasms) and F Brandon Ingram (right knee soreness) are listed as doubtful. G Lonzo Ball (right Adductor strain), G Josh Hart (left knee/ankle sprain), F Darius Millier (right Achilles rehab), C/F Jahlil Okafor (left ankle sprain) and F Zion Williamson (right knee surgery rehab) are listed as out.

[RELATED: Dubs' Cauley-Stein explains origin of his mouthguard grills]

ROTATION OUTLOOK

Warriors: The Warriors are back to nine available players. ... Russell’s absence leaves them with Bowman as the only point guard on the roster, so he might play at least 35 minutes. As was the case against Boston on Friday, Green will assume many of the ball-handling duties. ... The Warriors scored a season-high 134 points in the Oct. 24 game, with six players scoring in double figures. Three of those players (Curry, Lee and Russell) are unavailable today. ... The Warriors outrebounded the Pelicans 61-41 in the previous game.

Pelicans: If every player on the injury list is ruled out before tipoff, the Pelicans will be down to eight available players. ... Under new vice president of basketball operations David Griffin, the Pelicans over the summer separated their training/medical staff from that which also serves the NFL's Saints. The hope was that their previous misfortune with injuries would abate. ... Though rookie center Jaxson Hayes has played in all 12 games, he has yet to make a start. That could change today. He totaled 19 points (9-of-11 FG) in 24 minutes against the Warriors on Oct. 24.

Officials: Ken Mauer (crew chief), Mark Lindsay, Leon Wood.