One week ago, the Golden State Warriors were suffering through their longest losing streak of the season. Now, the return of two of their top players has them thinking playoffs.
The Warriors look to extend their longest win streak since the opening month of the season Sunday when they try for a fourth consecutive victory in a matchup with the Portland Trail Blazers.
Baron Davis missed 13 games while recovering from knee surgery and the Warriors (29-35) went 4-9 without him, including a season-high six-game losing streak from Feb. 24-March 4. Davis, though, has returned and Golden State has won its last three contests with him in the lineup.
Davis and Jason Richardson, who has appeared in 10 games since being sidelined for 22 with a broken hand, hadn’t played together since Dec. 30 before starting in the backcourt against Detroit on Monday.
“It’s great to have Baron back,” said Stephen Jackson, who came to the Warriors in a Jan. 17 trade with Indiana and is playing with the duo for the first time. “He’s our leader and as he goes, we go. J-Rich, too, our two key guys. Having him back, you see the difference it makes and hopefully we can ride that high horse, keep using their energy and keep finding ways to win games so we can get in these playoffs.”
Golden State is one of six teams within three games of each other for the final few playoff spots in the Western Conference.
Davis is averaging 20.7 points, 5.7 assists, 4.3 rebounds, and 1.7 steals while shooting 58.8 percent from the field since his return. He had 25 points, seven rebounds and three assists Friday to lead the Warriors to a 99-89 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Warriors will put their win streak on the line against a Portland club they have beaten seven straight times, including the last three meetings at the Rose Garden. Golden State has outscored Portland by an average of 11.4 points during the seven-game run, winning five of those contests by double digits.
The Blazers (25-36) have dropped their last two games, including a 99-94 loss to San Antonio on Tuesday. Portland was outscored 19-6 in the final four minutes, blowing an eight-point lead to lose for the fourth time in five games.
“They played like champions down the stretch,” said rookie Brandon Roy, who led the Blazers with 19 points and nine assists. “I’m going to learn from this game. They picked it up in the fourth quarter. Coach (Nate McMillan) said that’s what champions do.”
Roy is averaging 16.0 points, 8.3 assists and 4.0 rebounds while shooting 52.8 percent from the field in three games this month.
The Warriors, 7-25 on the road, had lost seven straight away from home before beating the Pistons on Monday. Portland has dropped five of seven at home.
Davis had 17 points and nine assists to lead Golden State to a 102-89 home win over Portland on Nov. 3. These teams meet again in Portland on April 18 in the regular-season finale for both clubs.