NBA Basketball

Blazers not offended by Kerr letting players coach

PORTLAND, Ore. -- One of the questions about Wednesday night's matchup between the Golden State Warriors and Portland Trail Blazers at Moda Center is this: Who will hold the clipboard during timeouts for the Warriors?

Coach Steve Kerr spread the task around in Monday's 129-83 undressing of the Suns at Phoenix, turning the duty over to veterans Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala and David West. Iguodala also pretty much ran the game-day shootaround.

"I told them (Saturday) we were going to do it this way," Kerr told ESPN. "It's their team. That's one of the first things you have to consider as a coach. It's not my team, it's not (general manager) Bob Myers' team, it's not (owner) Joe Lacob's team although I'm not going to tell Joe that.

"It's the players' team, and they have to take ownership of it. As coaches, our job is to nudge them in the right direction, to guide them, but we don't control them. They determine their own fate. I don't feel like we focused well at all the last month, and it just seemed like the right thing to do. They communicated really well together and drew up some nice plays. It was a good night for the guys."

After the game, Kerr explained his thoughts to Phoenix coach Jay Triano, who said he had no problem with it. Suns guard Jared Dudley said he considered it disrespectful, with backcourt mate Devin Booker having a slightly different view.

"Steve is an easy-going coach who has that relationship with his guys," Booker said. "But if he didn't have four All-Stars, I don't think he'd be doing that."

Portland point guard Damian Lillard said he would welcome such an opportunity.

"I'm always thinking situations and what I would do or what play I would call," said Lillard, the Blazers' team captain. "Coach (Terry) Stotts lets me call a lot of plays throughout the game, anyway. I'm always trying to figure out coverages and what we should do to take advantage of the other team. My mind is already working that way. I think it's pretty cool for coaches to challenge players mentally like that."

Does Stotts consider it disrespectful?

"No," he said. "I think (Kerr) is coaching his team, regardless of who's on the other side. Coaches do different things with their teams. It's that time of year. If you've gone to three straight (NBA) Finals and you're searching for something to do, why not?"

The Warriors (44-13) had lost three of four before regaining their mojo in a 3-0 homestand in which they shot 55.3 percent from the field and 45.1 from the 3-point line while averaging 124 points.

They lead the NBA in scoring (115.8), field goal percentage (51.1), 3-point percentage (39.3), free throw percentage (80.9), assists per game (44.4) and blocks per game (7.95).

Golden State has won its last seven meetings with Portland, including the first of three this regular season. Guard Klay Thompson needs 22 points to become the 10th player in franchise history to score 10,000.

The Blazers (31-26) would love to pull off the upset, especially after following up Lillard's 50-point game Friday in Sacramento with a 115-96 home loss to the Utah Jazz on Saturday.

"It's a big game for our team," Lillard said. "It would be great go into the (All-Star) break with a win against the defending champs, especially with how the standings are shaking out right now. It's a game we need to win. It's going to be exciting, it's going to be loud, and it's going to be really competitive."

Are the Warriors as good as they were a year ago?

"Their record says they're the same team," Lillard said. "The one thing that remains is how explosive they are. You could be up 12 (points) and three minutes later, you could be down 10 with the firepower they have and them being an elite team. We have to have that healthy respect for them, but also understand that anybody could be beaten.

"You can play great defense and they're still going to make shots, they're that good. You have to be able to put points up. You have to score with them. You have to have some resistance, and you have to make them work for everything they get. You have to attack them back -- use your offense as defense."

The Blazers are listing center Jusuf Nurkic (calf, back, oblique) as questionable, but he practiced Tuesday and seems likely to be in the lineup against the Warriors.

Updated February 14, 2018

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