Golden State Warriors is looking forward to having the superstar advantage for a change when it opens a three-game trip against rival Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday afternoon.
The Warriors are expecting Stephen Curry to return from an 11-game absence due to a partially torn ligament in his left knee when they meet the Lakers for a fourth and final time this season.
This time, they won’t have to deal with LeBron James, who remains out with a foot injury.
The last time the Western Conference playoff hopefuls met, the Lakers took advantage of Curry’s absence to run up a 124-111 home triumph. James flirted with a triple-double before finishing with 13 points, nine rebounds and eight assists.
Before that, Curry outscored James 33-31 on opening night when the Warriors handed out their 2022 championship rings before seizing a 123-109 victory.
Both stars sat out of the February 11 rematch in Los Angeles, won 109-103 by the Lakers. Dennis Schroder paced the hosts in that one with 26 points.
The Warriors have gone 7-4 in Curry’s absence. But all seven of those wins came in eight home games, while they interspersed road losses at Portland and against both Los Angeles teams.
All five Golden State home wins over the past nine days have been in come-from-behind fashion, the last four -- against Minnesota, Portland, the Clippers and New Orleans -- from as many as 14-, 23-, 12- and 17-point deficits.
Klay Thompson averaged 28.6 points in the five wins, shooting 28-for-55 (51 percent) on 3-pointers. He has led the NBA in 3-pointers over that stretch.
“Every one of these wins, it felt like it was marked by our team kind of getting over the hump,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after Saturday’s 108-99 victory over the Pelicans. “It’s been exciting to see our team turn a corner. But we still need to go out and win on the road.”
Desperate for wins as they look up at the Warriors and nine other teams in the Western standings, the Lakers tipped off a five-game homestand with a 110-102 loss to the Timberwolves on Friday.
Anthony Davis made 12 of his 22 shots and had 38 points for the Lakers, but his nine teammates who saw action went just 24-for-64 (38 percent) and totaled just 64 points.
The Lakers fell to 1-2 since James sustained his injury a week ago against Dallas. Los Angeles coach Darvin Ham didn’t like the effort against Minnesota.
“I’ve been around this thing 26 years,” he said. “Multiple championships. Multiple trips as a player and a coach to the postseason. If someone has to tell you that you have to be locked in ... We’re playing for one of the most recognizable, historic franchises on the face of the earth. If that doesn’t motivate you to go out and try to be the best version of yourself, I don’t know what will.”
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