Since starting the season with a 41-13 record, the Warriors lost 12 of their next 18 games, prompting Draymond Green to call out the team after Tuesday’s loss in Orlando for “playing stupid” and “getting punked,” as Kendra Andrews of ESPN writes.
The Warriors immediately responded to that criticism in impressive fashion on Wednesday night in Miami, beating the Heat by 14 points without Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, or Green active. According to Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic, Wednesday’s victory made it clear that Golden State has enough pieces on its roster to make a legitimate run at this year’s title.
How far the Warriors go will ultimately be determined by how much they get from their stars, but if Curry, Thompson, Green, and Andrew Wiggins are healthy and playing well, a supporting cast made up of players like Jordan Poole, Kevon Looney, Otto Porter, Jonathan Kuminga, and Gary Payton II is good enough to make the team “incredibly tough to beat,” writes Thompson.
Here’s more from around the Pacific:
- The Lakers, who are currently tied with the Pelicans in the Western Conference standings, view Sunday’s game in New Orleans as a “must-win,” according to Russell Westbrook. Dave McMenamin of ESPN has the story and the quotes.
- Elfrid Payton‘s 10.9 minutes per game this season are easily a career low, falling far short of the 28.5 MPG he had averaged in his previous seven seasons. However, he has been willing to embrace a reduced role for the NBA-best Suns, per Dana Scott of The Arizona Republic. “I’m just trying to do my job and stay ready, try to keep this thing going in the right direction,” said Payton, who likely won’t see much action going forward with Chris Paul back in the lineup.
- Clippers rookie guard Jason Preston has yet to make his NBA debut after undergoing foot surgery in October, but he has impressed veteran teammate Reggie Jackson with his understanding of the game. “Selfishly for me, it’s like having another coach,” Jackson said of Preston’s presence on road trips (Twitter link via Mirjam Swanson of The Southern California News Group). “Smart kid.”