Wizards-Warriors Preview

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.