Curry expected back when Warriors visit Lakers (Nov 29, 2017)

BY AP • November 28, 2017

LOS ANGELES -- The Golden State Warriors are hoping to have at least one star player back from injury when they open a six-game road trip against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on Wednesday.

Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant each sat out a 110-106 loss to the visiting Sacramento Kings on Monday. Curry has a bruised right hand and Durant has been dealing with a sprained left ankle. Andre Iguodala played against Sacramento despite a sore left knee, as did Draymond Green with a bruised right foot.

Curry, the NBA most valuable player in 2015 and 2016, sustained the injury while pursuing a loose ball in the 110-95 win against the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday. His hand swelled the following day. Durant, the 2014 league MVP while with the Oklahoma City Thunder, has missed four of the past five games with his lingering injury.

Golden State coach Steve Kerr seemed more optimistic that Curry would return against the Lakers.

"I think he'll play Wednesday," Kerr told reporters following the loss to Sacramento.

The Lakers welcomed back an injured starter in their 120-115 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday night, which should strengthen their bench the most.

Larry Nance Jr. missed the past 11 games with a fracture in his left hand. He had nine points, eight rebounds and four steals in 30 minutes against the Clippers.

Kyle Kuzma had taken Nance's place as the starting power forward and the rookie averaged a team-high 16.8 points while Nance was out. Kuzma returned to his reserve role against the Clippers and scored 15 points in 20 minutes, his least playing time since the season-opening loss to the Clippers.

"I don't believe in players losing starting positions from getting hurt," Lakers coach Luke Walton told reporters after the game. "I think Kuzma did a very nice job of filling in for him, but now that Larry's ready to play again we'll put him back to the spot that he earned in training camp."

Kuzma said he was fine with the decision.

"To me, it doesn't really matter," Kuzma said. "I proved I can play against second-unit guys, first-unit guys. Same thing."

Another delicate decision Walton continues to face is the amount of playing time for rookie starting point guard Lonzo Ball, especially at the end of close games.

Ball had another down performance against the Clippers, finishing with three points on 1-for-7 shooting. He contributed five rebounds and a team-high seven assists, but was outplayed again by reserve point guard Jordan Clarkson, who finished with 17 points on 8-for-12 shooting, eight rebounds and five assists.

Ball and Clarkson each played 26 minutes, but it was Ball who was on the floor the final 5:13. He entered with the Lakers trailing by three points, had a turnover and missed a running pull-up jumper when they were down one, and then missed a 3-pointer with eight seconds left, the final shot of the game.

Ball's shooting percentage has dipped to 30.9 and his 3-point mark is down to 24.5. Still, plenty of NBA coaches and players believe Ball will eventually perform like the No. 2 overall draft pick he was last June.

"I don't think Lonzo will be good, I think he'll be great," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. "His passing is contagious, and it's not a disease a lot of people have in this league."


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