Warriors-Cavaliers Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated January 29, 2013
Just when the Golden State Warriors were finally able to put the lineup they wanted on the floor, they'll likely be short-handed again. Meanwhile, the Cleveland Cavaliers will look to ride Kyrie Irving's hot streak to their first four-game winning streak since LeBron James left when they host the Warriors on Tuesday night. Golden State (27-17) got Andrew Bogut back for Monday's 114-102 win at Toronto, but also saw Stephen Curry depart in the third quarter after twisting his right ankle. Curry, averaging a career-best 21.0 points while shooting 45.2 percent from 3-point range, missed two games earlier this month with a sprain to the same ankle. The fourth-year guard's status for Tuesday's game is uncertain. "As long as I'm not putting myself in jeopardy to go play, I'm trying to get back out there," Curry said. Bogut played for the first time since Nov. 7 after missing 38 games because of soreness in his surgically repaired left ankle, and had 12 points and eight rebounds in 24 minutes. He'll likely sit out Tuesday's game since it's the second leg of a back-to-back, but his impact wasn't lost on coach Mark Jackson, who said Bogut "completes us as a team." "He was great," Jackson said of the former No. 1 overall draft pick. "You can tell we're a different basketball team with him on the floor. He's a weapon on the offensive end with his ability to pass, his ability to defend, rebound, block shots and also make plays." Teammate David Lee said Bogut's biggest contribution is his defense, where the 7-footer had four blocked shots against the Raptors. "I felt like I became a better defender tonight because he's constantly talking to me and constantly rotating to get my back," said Lee, who had 21 points and 12 rebounds, his NBA-leading 18th game with at least 20 and 10. Cleveland (13-32) has won three in a row for only the third time in the last three seasons, primarily on the strength of Irving's torrid stretch. Irving has averaged 35.7 points during the run, capped off by a game-winning 3-pointer in the closing moments of Saturday's 99-98 victory at Toronto. After being picked for his first All-Star team last week, Irving was named the Eastern Conference's player of the week Monday. Coach Byron Scott recently told him he was being too passive, and the message apparently resonated. "He understands we need him to be aggressive from the time he steps on the floor until the time he comes out of the game," Scott said of Irving, the NBA's sixth-leading scorer at 24.2 points per game. Irving has joined James, Bernard King, John Drew and Kevin Durant as the only players with three straight 30-point games before their 21st birthday. He'll try to help Cleveland snap a four-game losing streak against Golden State, including a 106-96 road loss Nov. 7. Irving played well in Oakland, posting 28 points, seven assists and six rebounds, but it wasn't enough to overcome the Warriors, who were led by Lee's 22 points and 14 rebounds.
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