Claxton has a fractured metacarpal bone in his right hand and will be sidelined a minimum of three weeks.
The Warriors, who visit the Chicago Bulls in the finale of a four-game road trip, know how significant Claxton’s loss could be.
“It’s kind of a downer because he’s been playing so well for us,” Warriors guard Jason Richardson said.
Claxton injured his hand in the opening seconds of the first quarter Wednesday at Memphis when he got tangled up with Grizzlies forward Pau Gasol. Despite the injury, he went on to score a career-high 28 points in the Warriors’ 99-92 victory.
“When it happened, I immediately felt it,” Claxton said. “But I didn’t want to come out of the game. It was bugging me but I just tried to tough it out.”
Claxton is averaging 10.5 points and 4.4 assists, and the Warriors are 15-14 since he joined the starting lineup. He will be re-examined by the Warriors’ medical staff Sunday.
“He’s a tough guy,” Richardson said. “He plays through pain. If this wasn’t that serious, he’d continue to play.”
In their first game without Claxton, the Warriors fell to the Minnesota Timberwolves 91-81 on Friday. Erick Dampier led Golden State with a season-high 24 points and 19 rebounds, and Richardson added 18 points.
“We just go out there and execute,” Dampier said of the Warriors, who had won two of their previous three. “We hit people when they’re open and make them guard us.”
Second-year forward Tyson Chandler, who has played in every game while healthy this season, did not get off the bench—a move coach Scott Skiles simply called a “coach’s decision.”
“I show up for practice and I work at practice. I do everything else I’m supposed to do,” said Chandler, who is averaging 8.0 points and 8.3 rebounds. “I can’t sit here and try to figure out what his mind is doing. If I do that, I’ll go crazy.”
The Bulls also lost forward Jerome Williams to a strained left knee tendon in the first quarter.
STANDINGS (through Feb. 26): Warriors - 5th place, 17 GB, Pacific Division. Bulls - 8th place, 26 1/2 GB, Central Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Warriors - Richardson, 18.8 ppg; Dampier, 11.9 rpg; Van Exel, 5.3 apg. Bulls - Crawford, 16.8 ppg; Davis, 8.8 rpg; Hinrich, 6.2 apg.
SEASON SERIES: Warriors, 1-0.
LAST MEETING: Jan. 30; Warriors, 101-81. At Oakland, Calif., Richardson, Claxton and Mike Dunleavy each scored 15 points to lead the Warriors to their third straight victory. Crawford scored 16 for the Bulls, who lost for the ninth time in 10 games.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Warriors - 7-22 on the road; Bulls - 10-20 at home.