War­riors keep calm de­spite rash of in­juries

Team en­cour­aged Curry MRI re­veals only mild to mod­er­ate groin strain

The Mercury News - - Sports - By Mark Me­d­ina mme­d­ina@ba­yare­anews­group.com

OAK­LAND >> The War­riors seemed at ease, even if they sud­denly have two in­jured All-Stars and lost by 23 points to the Bucks. The rea­son? The War­riors keep things in per­spec­tive.

The War­riors (10-2) ruled out star Stephen Curry for to­day’s game against the Brook­lyn Nets (5-6) at Or­a­cle Arena after an MRI on Fri­day re­vealed a mild to mod­er­ate left groin strain. Yet, War­riors coach Steve Kerr con­sid­ered the re­sults “ba­si­cally good news.”

“This doesn’t look like it’s go­ing to be a long-term in­jury,” Kerr said. “He’s dis­ap­pointed. But it could’ve been a lot worse.”

The War­riors will also sit Al­lS­tar for­ward Dray­mond Green for a sec­ond con­sec­u­tive game be­cause of a sprained right toe and foot. But he squeezed in a post­prac­tice work­out with trainer Travis Wal­ton. Kerr added that Green could re­turn for Mon­day’s game against the Clip­pers in Los An­ge­les.

“He’s feel­ing bet­ter. He was try­ing to talk us into let­ting him play,” Kerr said. “But we’re so early in the sea­son. The smart thing to do is shoot for Mon­day.”

War­riors vet­eran re­serve Shaun Liv­ingston will miss his sev­enth con­sec­u­tive game be­cause of a sore right foot, but he par­tic­i­pated in a game of 3-on-3 on Fri­day that makes his re­turn im­mi­nent. Kerr cau­tioned that both Curry and Liv­ingston will need prac­tice time be­fore re­turn­ing, mak­ing it pos­si­ble both will re­main out for Mon­day’s game against the Clip­pers.

How the War­riors plan to ad­just with­out Curry

Even if Kerr re­ported Curry feel­ing “bummed out” for the ob­vi­ous news, the War­riors touted the ben­e­fits of not re­ly­ing on a star who usu­ally can make 30foot jumpers al­most any­time.

The War­riors plan to start Quinn Cook in Curry’s place after field­ing ei­ther healthy scratches (two) or di­min­ished play­ing time (12.2 min­utes per game). Though

Kerr left it open-ended on who will start in Green’s place, op­tions in­clude sec­ond-year for­ward Jor­dan Bell, fourth-year for­ward Kevon Looney, vet­eran for­ward Jonas Jere­bko or emerg­ing wing Al­fonzo McKin­nie.

“Learn­ing how to play with­out Steph and Dray­mond, it al­ways puts more of a bur­den on ev­ery­body’s shoul­ders. That’s a good thing,” Kerr said. “You want ev­ery­body to have to un­der­stand over the course of 82 (games), there’s go­ing to be weird stuff that hap­pens. Play­ers have to play dif­fer­ent roles and step into a void here and there.”

The War­riors have be­come ac­cus­tomed to do­ing that.

With Curry nurs­ing over­lap­ping an­kle and knee in­juries, Cook av­er­ag­ing 14.6 points on 49.3 per­cent shoot­ing and 3.9 as­sists in a com­bined 18 games as a starter. Cook noted that “did a lot for his con­fi­dence.” It also did a lot for his fu­ture. After split­ting his time in Santa Cruz and the War­riors, they signed him to the team’s play­off ros­ter and for this sea­son.

“I’ll just play my game,” Cook said. “At first, I was try­ing to get guys the ball and I was so adamant on not mess­ing up and get­ting guys the ball. When I’m out there be­ing ag­gres­sive and play­ing my game, it takes a lot of pres­sure off of those guys.”

Still there’s a dif­fer­ence be­tween Curry and Cook play­ing their re­spec­tive games. Cook of­ten asks Kerr dur­ing a free throw or dead-ball sit­u­a­tion what play he should run. Curry usu­ally just im­pro­vises.

“He’s a guy who un­der­stands that with­out Steph on the floor, we’re not go­ing

to be in nearly as many ran­dom of­fen­sive pos­ses­sions. We have to have more play guys,” Kerr said. “That is much more im­por­tant when Steph is not on the floor. With Steph, we sort of like to cre­ate the chaos and just go. But we need more or­ga­ni­za­tion when Steph is out. Quinn pro­vides it.”

The War­riors are not as sure as what they can pro­vide in Green’s po­si­tion. When Bell started against the Bucks, posted as many points as fouls (four) and col­lected two fouls in the first quar­ter. Al­though Kerr con­ceded he feels more com­fort­able play­ing the 6-foot-9, 224-pound Bell at the cen­ter spot than at power for­ward, he did not

rule grant­ing him an­other chance.

“Jor­dan is the ob­vi­ous (fall) guy since he’s start­ing for Dray­mond,” Kerr said. “It’s easy to look at Jor­dan and say he didn’t do well. But when we don’t do well, in­di­vid­ual play­ers suf­fer. For Jor­dan to play the 4, ev­ery­body else has to be ex­e­cut­ing. It can still work. It’s eas­ier for him to play the 5 be­cause there’s more spac­ing.”

That partly ex­plains why Green told his younger team­mates at prac­tice the need to rely on their en­ergy to off­set the tal­ent and ex­pe­ri­ence they lose both with­out Curry, Green and Liv­ingston.

“We have some vet­eran guys who go about the game in a re­laxed way,” Iguo­dala said. “We can work our way into the game with a slow­ness. But for them, it’s got to be en­ergy and en­ergy from the jump.”

Who could pro­vide that en­ergy? Per­haps Looney, whom Iguo­dala con­sid­ered “one of the smartest play­ers” be­cause of his de­fen­sive ver­sa­til­ity and prepa­ra­tion. Maybe McKin­nie, whom Iguo­dala called “fear­less” after mor­ph­ing from a train­ing camp in­vi­tee to ro­ta­tion player with hus­tle, out­side shoot­ing and de­fen­sive ver­sa­til­ity.

Be­sides, the War­riors still can lean on All-Stars Kevin Du­rant and Klay Thomp­son to score as well as Igu­doala. There­fore, Iguo­dala mused that “NBA fans are the great­est” about any con­cern about how the War­riors man­age their lat­est set­backs.

“We’ve spoiled a lot of peo­ple,” Iguo­dala, re­fer­ring to the War­riors’ three NBA ti­tles in the past four years. “We don’t lose of­ten. So when we lose, it’s like what’s go­ing to hap­pen? It hap­pens in the NBA from time to time. You fix it. Some­times it brings the hunger back. So it can be good for you.”

The War­riors’ lack of ap­petite con­trib­uted to the end of an eight-game win­ning steak. The Bucks scored 84 points in the paint and forced 18 turnovers. Kerr also crit­i­cized his coach­ing. Still, he did not change any­thing dra­mat­i­cally in Fri­day’s to ac­count for fewer All-Stars and a 23-point loss.

“If this were 1956, they would’ve been run­ning sprints all day,” Kerr quipped. “But it’s 2018 so we watched film and we walked through some things. It was a very short day.”

The wait might be just as short for the War­riors to win again and for Curry, Green and Liv­ingston to play again.

War­riors lead­ing scorer Stephen Curry will miss at least to­day’s game against Brook­lyn with a left groin in­jury.

Golden State’s Quinn Cook will start in place of the in­jured Stephen Curry to­day against Brook­lyn.

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