Wizards-Warriors Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated March 23, 2013
The Golden State Warriors will get plenty of games at Oracle Arena during the final push for their first playoff berth in six seasons. The Warriors will try to begin that home-heavy stretch by adding to their recent success against the Washington Wizards on Saturday night. Golden State (39-31) is currently sixth in the Western Conference, 4 1/2 games ahead of ninth-place Utah. The Warriors get the benefit of a five-game homestand as they try to secure a spot in the postseason for the first time since 2007 and only the second time since 1994. They'll play eight of their next nine games and nine of their final 12 contests in Oakland, where they've gone 22-10 this season. "It's a great opportunity to put together a string of wins, but we're playing against some teams that are more than capable of coming in here and winning," coach Mark Jackson said. "It'll be a great chance to separate ourselves a little more." Golden State will try to do that with its fifth straight win over Washington (25-43). The Warriors took advantage of Wizards star point guard John Wall's absence for a 101-97 road victory Dec. 8. David Lee had 24 points and 17 rebounds while Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry also topped 20 points. Curry's four free throws in the final 15 seconds helped seal that win. Washington, however, is 20-15 since Wall's return from a knee injury on Jan. 12 and has won five of its last six, including an impressive 103-100 road win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday. "They're playing much better. A healthy John Wall will do that for you," Jackson said. "It's a team that's playing very well right now. ... To be young and out of (playoff contention), you got to give them credit. They're finishing it the right way." Wall had 24 points and a career-high 16 assists against the Lakers, and Trevor Ariza hit a personal-best seven 3-pointers en route to scoring 25 points. The victory gave the Wizards their first back-to-back road wins this season. They trailed by as many as 18 points in the third quarter, but outscored Los Angeles 62-43 in the second half. "We just knew what our team was, we're one of the top defensive teams and when we play defense and play the right way, we have a chance," Wall said. "We just have a lot of heart and character." The Warriors are coming off a road trip that would have been perfect if not for a 104-93 loss to San Antonio on Wednesday. With 24 points, Curry was the only player to score more than 14 for Golden State, which won its other two games on the trek by a combined 51 points. The Wizards have lost four of their last five in Oakland, although they haven't visited in nearly two years since a 114-104 loss March 27, 2011. Lee had 33 points on 15-of-26 shooting for the Warriors in that game and is averaging 22.1 while hitting 56.8 percent from the field in his last 11 contests versus Washington.
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