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News » Azubuike impresses, gets start


Azubuike impresses, gets start


Azubuike impresses, gets start The Warriors used an NBA-leading 46 starting lineups in 82 games last season. They are on pace for 82 this season as Wednesday night will feature their third set of starters in three games.

Warriors coach Don Nelson announced Monday that he'll start Kelenna Azubuike at small forward against the Memphis Grizzlies and move Stephen Jackson to power forward.

"It means more minutes (for me) probably," Azubuike said after Monday's practice, "and that's always welcomed."

Second-year forward Anthony Randolph, who started Friday at power forward, is back to the bench. This time he will back up center Andris Biedrins. That job used to belong to big man Ronny Turiaf, who started the season opener at power forward. But Turiaf is questionable with an aching left knee.

Nelson said he's been pleasantly surprised by Azubuike's play. The fourth-year player out of Kentucky averaged 15 points and 4.5 rebounds in 20.5 minutes the first two games. Nelson said he expected Azubuike to stagger out of the gates after missing a significant chunk of training camp practices and three preseason games with a bone bruise in his left ankle.

Azubuike said he stayed active despite being hobbled, which was a factor in his ability to hit the ground running once he was healthy enough to play.

"Keep my fitness level up, try to get a lot of shots up," Azubuike said of his regimen while injured. "Just do whatever I could do that wouldn't hurt the ankle. Maybe that helped a little bit."

Azubuike played both forward positions last season, and Nelson said he thought it worked. Azubuike gives the Warriors a more efficient offensive option. He's shooting 61.9 percent from the field so far, including 3-of-5 from 3-point range, where he shot 44.8 percent last season. That is probably why Nelson gave the nod to Azubuike over forward Corey Maggette, who averaged 9.5 points on 23.8 percent shooting the first two games.

Nelson said he is hoping Azubuike helps with ball movement, which may be odd considering Nelson said Azubuike is doing everything well "except passing."

Azubuike's tenure in the starting lineup is hardly predictable and largely contingent upon how he does Wednesday. But another factor, certainly, is how Randolph does.

In training camp, Nelson on several occasions either said Randolph would start at power forward or alluded to it. Wednesday, though, Randolph will play center in what Nelson said is an attempt, in part, to spark Randolph.

He said he wouldn't play Randolph against opponents' starting centers. Memphis features a bruiser in 7-foot-1, 265-pound Spaniard Marc Gasol. But Nelson said Randolph might have an advantage against backup centers.

"Most backup fives aren't going to really horse him around." Nelson said. "And then that jump shot that we really don't want him to shoot that much when he plays (power forward) is a pretty good shot against a (center). So I hope it's going to open his game up a little bit as well. Last year, when he had his best games it's when he was playing (center)."

The Warriors announced they would host Filipino Heritage Night on Friday against the Los Angeles Clippers. Arnel Pineda, lead singer of the rock band Journey, will make a special appearance. For more information, go to www.Warriors.com .


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Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: November 4, 2009

 

 
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