The Golden State Warriors have dealt with a rash of injuries lately and the most recent will force them to get by without Jason Richardson for up to two months, starting with Tuesday’s road game against the New Orleans Hornets.
Richardson, who missed eight games earlier in December with a bone bruise in his surgically repaired left knee, broke his right hand in Saturday’s 119-96 loss at Sacramento.
The injury happened in the second quarter when Richardson was apparently kicked in the hand by teammate Mickael Pietrus, who was trying to block a shot.
“Somebody coming down on my hand, that’s all I remember,” Richardson said. “It could be a blessing in disguise, so we’ll see.”
Richardson, the team’s leading scorer in 2005-06 with 23.2 points per game, was struggling this season as he worked his knee into shape. Richardson increased his scoring average in each of his previous five seasons, but is averaging 12.7 points this season while shooting a career-low 37.4 percent from the field.
“We haven’t seen the real Jason Richardson anyway,” Golden State coach Don Nelson said. “There was somebody disguised as him playing. Hopefully it’s not too much of a setback for him or us. His knee should be really healthy (when he returns).”
Richardson’s injury is another blow to Golden State, which has been without second-leading scorer Monta Ellis (17.1 ppg) for the last three games with a bruised right shoulder.
The Warriors did get forward Troy Murphy back Saturday after he missed 10 games with a sore left foot. Murphy, who averages 10.4 points and 6.0 rebounds, had just four points on 1-of-5 shooting in 20 minutes against Sacramento but grabbed eight boards.
With Richardson out and Ellis’ return uncertain, leading scorer Baron Davis may be asked to produce even more than usual.
“If it ain’t one thing, it’s another,” said Davis, averaging 21.0 this season. “J-Rich, Monta—that’s a lot of points. I’ve just got to take on as much as I possibly can.”
Davis, who also missed four games in November due to a rib problem, was held to eight points on 3-for-13 shooting on Saturday. Over the last six games, Davis has averaged 9.0 points in the Warriors’ two losses and 29.3 in their four wins.
He scored 36 points in Golden State’s 121-116 victory over New Orleans on Nov. 9.
New Orleans played its third game without leading scorer Chris Paul on Saturday, losing 94-80 at Dallas. Paul, who is averaging 18.4 points and 9.0 assists, is expected to be sidelined for a month with a sprained right ankle.
“It’s like climbing Mt. Everest without the rope,” Hornets coach Byron Scott said. “But that’s how it is.”
Marc Jackson scored a season-high 22 points Saturday to lead the Hornets, who have lost eight of 10.
Swingman Desmond Mason is averaging 12.6 points, but could be the most likely candidate to take over the scoring load in Paul’s absence. Mason has scored above his average in each of his last four games while averaging 17.8 points.
Mason had a season-high 24 points on 10-for-11 shooting in the Hornets’ 101-80 loss to Golden State in the teams’ last meeting on Dec. 9.
New Orleans did win its only home game this season against Golden State, 97-93 on Nov. 7, but that was with Paul, Stojakovic, West and Jackson all healthy.