Lakers-Warriors Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated March 25, 2013
The Golden State Warriors aren't sure if they'll have Stephen Curry available. It may not matter against Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers. With the status of their leading scorer unclear, the Warriors attempt to continue their surge by beating the Lakers for just the second time in 20 meetings Monday night. Golden State (40-31), sixth in the Western Conference, has won five of seven thanks in large part to Curry, who has averaged 30.2 points in those victories while hitting 59.6 percent from beyond the arc. The All-Star guard turned in his best performance of that stretch Saturday before a right ankle sprain forced him to leave in the fourth quarter of a 101-92 win over Washington. Before getting hurt in the opener of this five-game homestand, he scored 35 points with eight assists while connecting on 13 of 18 from the floor - 6 of 10 from long range. X-rays were negative on Curry's ankle, which he hurt on a hard foul by the Wizards' Cartier Martin while driving toward the hoop. "Night in and night out, he's the best player on the floor," coach Mark Jackson said. "It's special to see, because when you play with players like that, it elevates everybody else and makes them believe we can win, because we've got the baddest dude on the floor." The Warriors' struggles in the series come long before Curry joined the team in 2009. They've dropped 32 of 36 to the Lakers, including 15 of 18 at home after falling 118-115 in overtime on Dec. 22. Bryant had 34 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in that meeting, and not surprisingly, he's the driving force behind the Lakers' dominance of the Warriors. The superstar guard averages 30.6 points over his last 31 games against them, and 34.0 while playing in five of Los Angeles' six-game overall winning streak in the series. Bryant wasn't able to keep the Lakers from blowing an 18-point second-half lead in Friday's 103-100 home loss to Washington. He finished with 21 points and 11 assists in his return from a sprained left ankle that sidelined him for two games. "It's a disturbing loss and we're upset about it," Bryant said. "Our defensive intensity slipped a great deal in the second half and they took advantage of it." Coach Mike D'Antoni feels the Lakers need to stick to the game plan. "I can't explain it, but every time we get up 16, it's like, 'Well, we're really good and we don't have to play hard' and we start messing with the game," D'Antoni said. "When you start messing with not moving the ball, messing with 'I'm just going to go one-on-one every time,' and you start messing with the basketball gods, they will get you. If we don't change that we obviously won't make the playoffs." Los Angeles, which is opening a four-game road trip, holds a two-game edge on Utah and Dallas for the eighth and final playoff position in the West. A healthy Pau Gasol should help. The big man had four points and eight rebounds in 20 minutes Friday after missing more than six weeks with a right foot injury. The starting lineup of Bryant, Gasol, forward Metta World Peace, center Dwight Howard and guard Steve Nash is 0-6 this season.
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