Kurt Helin

Stephen Curry

It’s official: Stephen Curry returns to Warriors lineup Saturday

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It was expected. It has been expected for a couple of days. It was expected coming out of shootaround Saturday when Stephen Curry said he felt good and if he still felt good at game time he would go.

And it was pretty clear when Curry was doing this in warmups.

But now it official — Stephen Curry is back in the lineup for the Golden State Warriors Saturday against Denver. From Monte Poole of CSNBayarea.com.

Curry missed two games — a Warriors loss to Dallas then a win over Houston.

Curry is the leading MVP candidate a third of the way into the season, averaging 30.5 points a game, shooting 44.6 percent from three, he’s dishing out 6.4 assists a game, and his gravity on offense draws defenders which opens things up for Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and the rest of the Warriors. Put simply, the Warriors’ offense is 16.3 points per 100 better when Curry is on the court, and as a team they are 29 per 100 better with him on the court.

So yes, the Warriors are pretty happy to have him back.

However the Warriors are without Brandon Rush, who has started recently in Harrison Barnes‘ place. Andre Iguodala is expected to start in his place.

Jarrett Jack leaves game with knee injury, “Worst pain I’ve ever felt”

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Non-contact injuries are the scariest.

That’s what Brooklyn’s Jarrett Jack suffered Saturday. He was on a 2-on-1 fast break in the third quarter in Boston, got the ball, and you can see his right knee just kind of buckled, his left foot kind of slips and he goes to the ground in pain. He did not return to the game, and the Nets officially called it a sprain, but there will be more examinations Sunday when we will find out the full extent of the injury.

Jack posted on Instagram and thanked his fans — and sounded concerned.

George Karl draws a technical, DeMarcus Cousins daps his approval (VIDEO)

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You may find this hard to believe, but DeMarcus Cousins was not happy with the officiating against the Phoenix Suns Saturday.

Kings’ coach George Karl wasn’t happy either — he was barking at the official much of the game and at one point drew a technical for something he said while still sitting down. He didn’t get up.

But Cousins approved, he went over and gave Karl a dap (hat tip Eye on Basketball for the video).

Karl wasn’t done barking, he probably should have picked up another “T” later, but the referees went easy on him.

They didn’t go easy on the Suns’ Tyson Chandler, who did get ejected for arguing a call.

Jared Sullinger with flagrant foul on Brook Lopez, scuffle breaks out

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Boston’s Jared Sullinger earned the flagrant foul on this one. That takedown of Brooklyn’s Brook Lopez was worthy of a WWE undercard, and if you do that in an NBA game you get a flagrant foul.

That is followed the usual NBA “fight”/tough guy posturing — Jarrett Jack comes in to say something to Sullinger, Jae Crowder defends Sully, and pretty soon it’s about Jack and Crowder for no reason in particular. Jack and Crowder each got a technical foul for trying to make it about them. From where I sit, the refs got all that right.

The Nets upset the Celtics 100-97, behind 30 points and 13 boards from Lopez.

Nuggets’ Jusuf Nurkic, Kings’ Willie Cauley-Stein likely return Saturday

Sacramento Kings center Willie Cauley-Stein drives to the basket between Minnesota Timberwolves' Damjan Rudez, of Croatia, left, and Gorgui Dieng, of Senegal, right, during the second half of an NBA basketball game on Friday, Nov. 27, 2015, in Sacramento, Calif. The Timberwolves won 101-91. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Associated Press
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While the NBA world is watching the Bay Area to see if Stephen Curry will make his return (it seems likely, however Steve Kerr will not return yet), a couple of other returns to the NBA could happen on Saturday worth noting.

In Sacramento, it appears rookie Willie Cauley-Stein is ready to return from the severe finger dislocation he suffered earlier this season (as CSN Kings insider James Ham told us in the PBT Podcast, it wasn’t a break but a dislocation so severe it broke the skin).

The Kings’ defense improves when Cauley-Stein is on the floor, 2.3 points per 100 possessions (he still misses a lot of reads, but his athleticism covers some mistakes), but that does not make up for the 8.1 points per 100 the offense drops when he is on the floor. Cauley-Stein can only score at the rim, every team helps off him on the other Kings’ shooters, and he isn’t comfortable in the offense and often just seems more in the way than anything. Getting him back is good for his needed development, but it’s not a huge “here come the wins now” kind of boost for the Kings.

The bigger boost may be in Denver, where Jusuf Nurkic is back. That word comes straight from the man himself.

Last season Nurkic contributed more than expected as a rookie, particularly with physical play around the rim. The Nuggets were 3.4 points per 100 better last season when he was on the court than sitting (and he got a lot of run after the Timofey Mozgov trade). He is a beast of a player inside, but he has to learn to pick his spots defensively (his aggression led to seemingly constant foul trouble). He can defend the pick-and-roll fairly well for big man, which the Nuggets can use.

Denver needs to get Nurkic and rookie Emmanuel Mudiay working together. These two can be two parts of the Nuggets future, and they need to start letting them develop pick-and-roll chemistry and see how they fit together.