The Golden State Warriors had just two-and-a-half quarters with healthy ankles.
While Andrew Bogut returned Monday after rehabbing his injured left ankle, Warriors star Stephen Curry left early with an injured right ankle in Golden State’s 114-102 road victory against the Toronto Raptors.
Curry stepped on the foot of Toronto’s Ed Davis on a drive through the key and rolled his right ankle with five minutes remaining in the third quarter. It’s the same ankle that kept Curry out on Jan. 16 and 18, and the same ankle that has needed two offseason surgeries.
The Warriors are calling it a minor ankle sprain and Curry is considered day-to-day.
Curry continued to play through the pain after the tweak, but it seemed to bother him as he remained in the game. In possessions following the roll, Curry attempted to cut hard within the offense but it was obvious he couldn’t push off the ankle.
By the end of the third quarter, Curry was sitting on the baseline near the visiting bench with his shoe off, adjusting his ankle brace. He headed toward the locker room to test running with 8:57 remaining, and though he quickly returned to the bench, he never re-entered the game.
Warriors head coach Mark Jackson said the team just wanted to be cautious about putting Curry back on the floor, despite pleas from the guard to return to the court.
“We’ll find out tomorrow but we just wanted to be smart,” Jackson said. “I sent (assistant coach) Pete Myers in the hallway to look at him run and there was no need to put him back out there.
“I just wanted to make sure he was healthy and give an opportunity to know what we’re dealing with. He wanted to get back in the game, but I’ve got more interest in his future and our future.”
Curry scored 17 points on 7-for-12 shooting with five assists. David Lee finished with a team-high 21 points and added 12 rebounds and seven assists.
Bogut is back
Bogut returned to the floor for the first time since Nov. 7 and tallied 12 points and eight rebounds in 23 minutes. The 28-year-old center had missed 38 games to build back his left ankle, which was surgically repaired this offseason. Bogut had played in four of the Warriors’ first five games.
“I thanked the coaches before the game for being patient with this; it’s been a frustrating time for me,” Bogut said after the game. “It’s been hell for two months. The fans out there, it’s been tough on everybody and the last thing I wanted to do was be sitting out with an injury. I feel like it’s almost there. I’m back out on the floor and I’m excited.”
Bogut scored four points in the first two minutes, more than what Festus Ezeli (2.6 points) and Andris Biedrins (0.5 points) combine for per game. Ezeli, who started in 38 games and averages 16.1 minutes, did not play on Monday.
Bogut proved valuable on defense and had back-to-back blocks in the final minutes of the second quarter, proving the benefit of a clog in the lane.
“That’s what I do; I’m going to challenge you at the rim,” Bogut said.
Bogut said after the game that he probably would not play in the second part of a back-to-back, on Tuesday at the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Bogut was essential on the boards, helping the Warriors outrebound Toronto 49-37.
In both of the last two games, the Warriors had been dominated in the key, losing 57-19 in second-chance paints.
On Monday though, the Warriors outscored the Raptors 62-34 in the paint. The Warriors shot 53.5 percent from the field and led in second-chance points, 18-12.
Another positive sign was the Warriors’ ability to run the offense out of the interior around Bogut.
In the final minutes, the ball entered to Bogut in the post, who waited to draw the double-team and then kicked it out to Jack on the perimeter. Jack then began a swing to the corner that found a wide-open Klay Thompson, who buried a three-pointer to put the Warriors ahead 103-92.
Importance of insurance
Jarrett Jack filled in nicely after Curry went down, finishing with eight of his 14 points in the fourth quarter. Jack added four rebounds and four assists on the night.
Jackson was asked after the game regarding the importance of his backup point guard.
“It makes a difference,” Jackson said. “That’s one of the things we wanted to do. Last year we were searching for answers when Steph went down. This year, credit to our ownership and our management, we went and got a legitimate backup guard that’s as good as any backup guard in this league and has the ability to start.
“It’s his toughness, his ability to lead, and he’s not afraid of the moment. It’s great for him to be ready and bring this one home.”
The little things count
Another reason that I've looked forward to Andrew playing is that I want to hear that Aussie accent during postgame interviews #warriorstalk— Kara Avanceña (@karadanielle22) January 29, 2013
The Warriors and Raptors were tied 52-52 at halftime. The Warriors shot 48.9 percent and outscored the Raptors 32-16 in the paint through the first two quarters.
Neither team shot the ball well from distance in the first half, as the Warriors were 2-for-9 (22 percent) and the Raptors were 1-for-8 (12.5 percent) from three-point range. The Warriors finished at 40 percent three-point shooting and Toronto finished at 31.6 percent.
Lowry out for Toronto
Toronto point guard Kyle Lowry did not play on Monday, out with back spasms according to the team. There have been rumors circulating that Lowry might be traded to the Boston Celtics as a potential replacement for Celtics elite point guard Rajon Rondo, who is out for the season after an ACL injury.
Sense I get is it's far likelier Celts pursue Kyle Lowry and his cap-friendly contract. But do Celts have assets to land Raps PG? We'll see— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) January 28, 2013