Warriors

Warriors at Suns watch guide: Lineups, injury report, player usage

Warriors at Suns watch guide: Lineups, injury report, player usage

In their last game before the All-Star break, the Warriors make their first trip to Phoenix this season and face the Suns on Wednesday night at Talking Stick Resort Arena.

Pregame coverage on NBC Sports Bay Area begins at 5 o’clock, with tipoff scheduled for 6:10.

With the Warriors (12-42) unrepresented in the All-Star Game for the first time since 2013 -- though rookie forward Eric Paschall was selected for the Rising Stars game -- coach Steve Kerr urged the players to get away for a few days before they reconvene next Tuesday.

No one needs the time off more than Kevon Looney. Batting the effects of neuropathy, the forward/center was ruled out after the team’s morning shootaround, bringing to 40 the number of games he has missed this season.

The Suns (21-33) also are coping with injuries. Three rotation players were declared out Wednesday morning, shortly before starting center Deandre Ayton was downgraded from questionable to doubtful.

[RELATED: How to watch tonight's Warriors-Suns game on MyTeams, TV]

The teams split their first two games this season, both played at Chase Center.

PROJECTED LINEUPS

Warriors

F – Andrew Wiggins
F – Draymond Green
C – Marquese Chriss
G – Damion Lee
G – Ky Bowman

Suns

F – Kelly Oubre Jr.
F – Mikal Bridges
C – Cheick Diallo
G – Devin Booker
G – Ricky Rubio

INJURY REPORT

Warriors: G Stephen Curry (left hand fracture), F/C Kevon Looney (left hip soreness) and G Klay Thompson (left ACL rehabilitation) are listed as out.

Suns: C Deandre Ayton (left ankle soreness) is listed as questionable. C Aron Baynes (left hip soreness), G Jared Harper (right wrist sprain), C/F Frank Kaminsky (right patella stress fracture) and F Dario Saric (left ankle sprain) are listed as out.

ROTATION OUTLOOK

Warriors: With Looney out, rookie Alen Smailagic and Chriss will split most of the time at center. Though Green has played there in the past, the coaching staff is trying to limit his minutes at center.

Chriss is shooting 63.4 percent from the field over his last seven games, all of which he started. 

Wiggins averaged 21 points in his first two games as a Warrior, shooting 53.8 percent overall and 45.5 percent from distance.

[RELATED: Why Kerr compares Wiggins to puzzle piece for Dubs' future]

After posting subpar shooting numbers for most of January, Lee is back on target this month. He’s shooting 48.2 percent from the field, including 45.5 percent from deep.

Since moving into the starting lineup after the Feb. 6 trade of D’Angelo Russell, Bowman is 2-of-10 from the field 0-of-4 from deep, with 13 assists and five turnovers.

The Warriors have a nine-game win streak in Phoenix, their longest active win streak against any opponent on the road.

Suns: Rookie SF Cameron Johnson made his first career start on Monday, totaling eight points, four assists and three steals. He also posterized Lakers C JaVale McGee on a rim-rattling dunk. Johnson got the start ahead of Kelly Oubre Jr., who was held out of the starting lineup for disciplinary reasons. Oubre played 28 minutes vs. LA and is expected to start vs. the Warriors.

Booker leads the Suns in scoring (26.4 ppg, 49.9 FG pct.), is second in assists (6.3) has scored in double figures in each of the 51 games in which he has played. 

Baynes, Kaminsky and Saric have combined for 81 starts, coming off the bench 32 times.

Other players in key roles off the bench are PG Javon Carter and G/F Elie Okobo.

The Suns over their last three first quarters averaged 37.7 ppg, on 69.0-percent shooting, including 60 percent from beyond the arc. 

Phoenix leads the NBA in points per possession in transition (1.19), ranks second in assists per game (26.9) and fifth in points off turnovers (18.2).

The Suns are No. 1 in free-throw percentage at 82.0 percent, just ahead of the No. 2-ranked Warriors (81.0 percent).

Officials: Rodney Mott (crew chief), Kevin Cutler, Derek Richardson.

Kobe Bryant memorial service has Warriors prepping for emotional day

Kobe Bryant memorial service has Warriors prepping for emotional day

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Warriors exited Chase Center on Sunday after adding another defeat to their tally, this time against the New Orleans Pelicans. But Golden State, along with the remainder of the NBA, is preparing to reckon with its toughest loss in years.

The league momentarily will come to a standstill Monday, when all eyes will fixate on Staples Center in Los Angeles for the memorial service of Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, who died last month -- along with his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others -- in a helicopter crash.

Golden State pillars Draymond Green, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson are expected to attend the service, along with general manager Bob Myers. But the other Warriors, armed with memories of their hero, will be left to reconcile his death in the confines of practice and search for closure in a familiar setting.

"It's going to be emotional," Warriors big man Marquese Chriss told NBC Sports Bay Area on Sunday. "I think it's going to bring back up a lot of emotions that everybody was feeling on the day that it happened. I think people aren't going to know how to feel. It's going to make it real."

The practice court serves as a unique reminder of Bryant's death. That's where the team received the news five weeks ago, just as it began pre-practice workouts.

An assistant coach relayed the initial message, and practice soon was stopped as Warriors players and staff gathered their thoughts.

"You could hear a pin drop in there," rookie forward Eric Paschall said. "It was stopped."

From the bowels of the billion-dollar basketball facility, Warriors assistant Jarron Collins walked through the adjoining weight room, up the steps and down a corridor to Chase Center's main court to tell Chriss the news. Chriss, then on a two-way contract and away from the team as to not burn his NBA service time, was floored when he heard it.

Chriss and Bryant once shared an agent, Rob Pelinka, who represented them both before he became the Lakers' general manager in 2017. The legendary Lakers guard even stopped by Chriss' college pro day at an LA-area high school ahead of the 2016 NBA Draft, bringing a buzz with him into the gym.

"It was dope to see his energy," Chriss said. "He walked into the gym, and the energy in the gym changed. He had a presence about him. Everybody wanted to talk to him, kind of pick his brain and be around him."

Similar stories are told throughout Golden State's locker room. Thompson -- whose father, Mychal, still calls Lakers games for the local radio affiliate -- met Bryant when he was a child, and he occasionally worked out with him at UC Irvine.

“He was obviously the best player in the world at the time," Thompson remembered after Bryant's final game at Oracle Arena in 2016. "I just remember watching him work out, how methodical [he was] and attention to detail he gave to every drill. It inspired me a lot.”

When Thompson was charged with marijuana possession during his junior year at Washington State, Bryant sent him an expletive-filled text.

“He said, 'Forget about that,' said it with a couple expletives and, 'Just go out there and kill,' " Thompson recounted.

“I have a potty mouth,” Bryant added that evening when asked about the exchange. “I just told him, 'Listen, man, we all make mistakes. You can’t worry about that stuff. Just keep your focus on basketball, and everything will work itself out.' "

While Thompson personally knew Bryant for much of his life, Green admired the five-time NBA champion from afar as a kid. Nonetheless, he still finds himself reconciling the loss of his idol.

"I think I'm still at the point where every time you see it, you're like, 'Damn.' Like is it a real thing?" Green said Sunday. "I don't know. Maybe tomorrow brings closure. Maybe it don't."

The topic of Bryant's memorial brought Green back to the first time he played against the guard at Oracle, which forced the forward out of his routine.

"I'm never really a guy to get star-struck," Green said. "There's two people that I've ever been star-struck by in this league, and that's Kobe and Grant Hill."

"I was finishing my pregame shooting, and Kobe was coming out," Green added. "And you have your stuff you have to do in the back when you're done shooting, and so I finished my shooting and Kobe was coming out, and I just sat on the end of the bench, and before I knew it, 20, 25 minutes had passed, and I was late as hell to finish my pregame prep, but that was just a moment for me where I was stuck like, 'Wow, I just saw Kobe work out.' "

When Green wasn't in awe of Bryant, he wanted counsel from him. Four years ago, following Green's suspension for Game 5 of the 2016 NBA Finals, he sought Bryant's advice in the wake of criticism during a time Green called "the lowest point" of his career. After hearing Green vent, Bryant responded with a message: "You’re chasing something so much bigger. How do you ever expect anyone to understand you?"

Green keeps the advice close to this day. 

"It helped me a lot," he said. "Because you kind of deal with things a certain way, and when you're dealing with things a certain way, you can only do what you think is best at the end of the day. But when you get reassurance from someone who's been through it at the highest level that the way you're dealing with something is like OK, it gives you that confidence to carry out whatever it is in the way you think it was right. It gives you that green light, like it's cool."

[RELATED: Steph looks sharp before Dubs-Pelicans as return nears]

Now, as his Warriors teammates say one last goodbye Monday, each will try to follow Green's credo in carrying on Bryant's legacy.

"The way you approach this game," Green said. "I think if there was anything he could ask for, that's what he would ask for. That he gave everything he had to it."

Watch Steph Curry impress in sharp pre-game warm-up as return nears

Watch Steph Curry impress in sharp pre-game warm-up as return nears

Steph Curry didn't take the floor during the Warriors' loss to the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday. 

The injured Golden State star did beforehand, however, looking game-ready as he went through a pre-game workout. 

Curry hasn't played since breaking his left hand on Oct. 30. He was cleared for contact in practices Saturday, scrimmaging with his teammates for the first time since picking up the injury and subsequently undergoing two surgeries. The 31-year-old said Saturday that lingering nerve damage in his left hand has taken some getting used to, but that he is targeting a March 1 return

Former Warriors Mitch Richmond and Chris Mullin dealt with the same injury during their NBA careers. Mullin had three separate hand surgeries during his, and he said Curry's biggest adjustment will come from playing with his teammates again.

"He practices at game pace," Mullin said of Curry on Sunday during Warriors Pregame Live. "He takes game shots all the time. His fitness will be there. It's (about) getting acclimated to the players around him, finding the spacing and the timing."

[RELATED: Why Bender signing is 'great opportunity' for him, Warriors]

Though Curry didn't injure his dominant hand, he relies on his left a lot to pass and when he finishes at the rim. He won't lose trust in his shot, but Richmond thinks the two-time MVP has to ensure  

"I went through that same injury [and so did] Mully," Richmond said Sunday. "It's all about confidence when you come back. ... I think, for him, he wants to find that confidence that it can be hit, and then he can come back from it." 

The Warriors owned the NBA's worst record after Sunday's loss, which clinched their third losing streak of six games or more. Curry's return won't lift Golden State out of the league's cellar, but it undoubtedly will lift his teammates' spirits in an otherwise dreary season.