Warriors, Lakers take precautions with star players in final exhibition
SAN JOSE >> For two teams that have overwhelming star power, the Warriors and Lakers suddenly had fewer.
In the Warriors’ preseason finale against the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday, both teams used the game to rest their star players in the 119-105 Lakers’ win.
The Lakers rested LeBron James and Rajon Rondo. They
also sat some young players that had minor ailments, including third-year forward Brandon Ingram (quad), second-year guard Josh Hart (left hamstring tightness) and second-year guard Alex Caruso (right hip strain).
Warriors guard Klay Thompson had 21 points while staying efficient from the field (7 of 16), from 3-point range (3 of 6) and the free-throw line (4 of 4). But the Warriors joined the absentee party by sitting Kevin Durant after he played in the first four exhibitions. They rested veteran Andre Iguodala. And after entertaining the crowd with plenty of points (16), shots (5 of 10) and 3-pointers (4 of 7) in the first quarter, Stephen Curry suddenly became ill and missed the rest of the game. He still sat on the bench, so at least the ailment is not contagious. But it was not worth it for the Warriors to trot Curry out anymore.
After all, consider what Warriors coach Steve Kerr said beforehand on if he cares about a preseason win.
“No,” Kerr said, smiling. “I’m not going to elaborate. There’s nothing more to say.”
Except for one thing, the Warriors rightfully have more concern with their regular-season
opener against Oklahoma City on Tuesday than providing any memories in exhibition play.
DRAYMOND GREEN RETURNS >> After missing the past three games with a sore left knee, Green seemed normal as always. His presence spoke louder than the box score with his intensity, defense and smarts.
Of course, he also exchanged barbs. He and Lakers coach Luke Walton playfully talked trash during a free throw. Then, Lakers forward Michael Beasley got tangled up with Green and the two inevitably jawed with each other.
After both were called for a technical, Beasley approached Green to smooth things over. Green feigned indifference. Then Beasley was given another technical and a subsequent ejection with 9:12 left in the third quarter after an official thought he was further instigating.
DAMIAN JONES REMAINS
THE STARTING CENTER >> Kerr has said he will keep that spot open until DeMarcus Cousins’ uncertain return from an injured left Achilles tendon. For now, though, Jones has the starting center position until further notice. He finished with 16 points on 6-of-6 shooting and six rebounds in 23 minutes.
He started in all preseason games. He has impressed the Warriors with his length, athleticism and defense. And against the Lakers on Friday, Jones’ alley-oop lob from Curry represented the highlight of the game.
Don’t look now, but Jones could mirror JaVale McGee’s role the previous two seasons with the Lakers. The Warriors’ All Stars loved throwing lobs to them. It kept them engaged. And for a team that will have to find a way to feel interested in the regular season, Jones could keep theme entertained. CEMENTING HIS FUTURE >> The Warriors have not reached any resolution with Patrick McCaw. The Warriors have reached a resolution in bolstering their wing position, though. The team signed training camp invitee Alfonso McKinnie to a twoyear deal at the veteran’s minimum that guarantees him a roster spot for the 2018-19 season. Kerr observed that McKinnie
“clearly stood out amongst the group” in training camp because of his athleticism, outside shooting and hustle. Not bad for someone the brought in before camp after playing with Chicago’s G-League team (2016-2018), Toronto’s summer-league team (2018) and professionally in Luxembourg and Mexico (2015-16).
“I like when a guy fights and scraps and crawls,” Kerr said. “His teammates like him, we like him, and we think he has some versatility. We are excited for him.”
What about McCaw? That might cement his end since the Warriors have 14 players committed to their regular-season roster. They have one roster spot vacant, but the Warriors want to keep that open to keep financial flexibility. Still, Warriors GM Bob Myers told Bay Area News Group he is still open toward re-signing the thirdyear guard.
BREAKING BREAD >> Before the game, Kerr and James spoke in the hallway like they were longtime buddies.
The subject? “There’s this great sandwich spot down the corner that we went to,” Kerr quipped.
Stephen Curry lasted one quarter in Friday night’s exhibition and scored 16 points against the Lakers at the SAP Center.
The Warriors’ Klay Thompson, who finished with 21 points, shoots a 3-pointer over the Lakers’ Travis Wear during their preseason game Friday in San Jose.