Pacific Notes: Warriors, Kawhi, LeBron, Lakers

Despite injuries draining the Warriors’ chances of competing for a title this season, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson have done their best to maintain the uplifting atmosphere the franchise has generated in recent years, writes Mark Medina of USA Today.

Curry last played on October 30 and is expected to miss several more weeks due to a broken left hand, with Thompson still likely to miss the rest of season rehabbing from a torn ACL. Both players have been seen on the sidelines giving advice and firing up teammates despite their injuries.

“They’re just supportive with their antics and are goofy,” teammate Omari Spellman said, as relayed by Medina. “They’re trying to keep it uplifting and loose instead of it being so hectic and chaotic. It’s definitely appreciated that the older guys are taking the time to talk to us younger guys.”

The Warriors have also missed D’Angelo Russell, Draymond Green, Willie Cauley-Stein and others periodically this season, owning the league’s second-worst record at 9-31. Nonetheless, Golden State still sports one of the league’s most formidable cores when healthy, especially when coupled with the positive atmosphere that comes with it.

“That’s what our team has been in the last five years, in terms of taking a lot of joy out of a game and joy in each other’s accomplishments,” head coach Steve Kerr said. “When you see Steph jumping around on the sidelines when one of these young guys is doing something well, it’s a reminder that the foundation has been built.”

There’s more from the Pacific Division tonight:

  • Clippers coach Doc Rivers believes Kawhi Leonard‘s health is trending upwards, and the 2019 NBA Finals MVP agrees, Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN writes. “You know, he’s been doing it a lot lately,” Rivers said. “I think he is in a far better place now than he was in Game 1 [of the regular season], let’s just put it like that. You can see it with him, you can see it in the practices, it’s just going up. You can feel it, you can see it, he has a better thrust now. And it’s good, it has been really good to see.”
  • Lakers star LeBron James passed Michael Jordan for fourth in career field goals made, converting a layup in the first quarter of Friday’s game to reach 12,192 total makes, Dave McMenamin of ESPN details. James passed Jordan in makes on 324 fewer attempts, McMenamin notes. “Any time you’re in a marathon and you’re able to have feats throughout that marathon, I think it’s just pretty cool to be linked with the greats,” James said postgame. “You said the name Michael Jordan; it just means so much to me. Any time I’m linked with his name, with his greatness and what he was able to do with the game. Hopefully, I continue to make him and all the other greats proud. Any time I’m linked with them. Hopefully, I can continue to make my family and my fans proud, as well.”
  • The Lakers are willing to trade virtually anyone to construct a championship-caliber roster this season, Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times writes. With an emphasis on “willing,” Los Angeles is unlikely to make any earth-shattering trades before the Feb. 6 trade deadline, as the team has started the season with an impressive 32-7 record.
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