By: Jim Eichenhofer,, @Jim_Eichenhofer
January 5, 2011

Approaching the midway point of the 2010-11 NBA regular season, Western Conference members New Orleans and Golden State hold their first meeting, among three head-to-head matchups. Wednesdays game is the Warriors lone trip to the Crescent City this season. The Hornets will travel to Oakland in exactly three weeks, facing Golden State on Jan. 26. The clubs wrap up the season series on Feb. 15 in California, three days prior to the 2011 NBA All-Star break.

The injury-riddled Warriors finished last season at just 26-56, but began 2010-11 in promising fashion, compiling six victories in their first eight games. However, a freak elbow injury to frontcourt stalwart David Lee combined with a difficult schedule sent Golden State into a tailspin in late November and early December.

Despite their 26-56 mark a season ago, the Warriors gave the Hornets major fits, including scoring 131 points in each of the final two meetings, the latter a 131-121 victory for Golden State. The Warriors are headlined by one of the most skilled backcourts in the NBA, including second-year point guard Stephen Curry and prolific shooting guard Monta Ellis. Under first-year head coach Keith Smart, Golden State has placed a much greater emphasis on defensive effectiveness, leading to a slight early improvement in that category. Although several Warriors have been banged up lately with minor ailments, theyve also been much healthier as a team than they were last season.


Power forward, David West vs. David Lee
Two big men with the same first name and similar credentials (West has two All-Star appearances under his belt, in 2008 and 2009, while Lee garnered the honor in 2010) face off in the New Orleans Arena paint, depending on whether Lee will be available. Lee missed Mondays game at Orlando after taking a hard fall to the floor in Saturdays defeat in Miami. As a former member of the New York Knicks, Lee has enjoyed tremendous success against the Hornets in the past, including averaging 22.5 points on 70 percent shooting last season. West and the Hornets interior defense will try to keep Lee off the boards and prevent him from scoring easy baskets on dives to the rim off pick-and-roll plays.

A closer look at the Golden State Warriors:

Stephen Curry

Lou Amundson

Golden State second-year point guard Stephen Curry first gained significant recognition in the basketball world during the 2008 NCAA Tournament, when Curry nearly led tiny Davidson College to the Final Four. Davidson was eliminated in the Elite Eight by the eventual 08 national champions, the Kansas Jayhawks. Last season, the 22-year-old finished as the runner-up in the NBAs Rookie of the Year vote, behind only Sacramentos Tyreke Evans. Curry is the son of Dell Curry, the all-time leading scorer in Hornets franchise history (on the same points list, David West ranks second, while Chris Paul is fifth but rapidly approaching No. 4 Larry Johnson). As the offspring of a highly-skilled pro, Curry was around NBA arenas often as a youngster, perhaps part of the reason why he developed into such a fundamentally-sound passer, ballhandler and shooter.

Born in Jackson, Miss., Warriors shooting guard Monta Ellis has been given the nickname The Mississippi Bullet, a reference to his home state and his extraordinary quickness on drives to the basket. Through late December, the athletic 6-foot-3 shooting guard was the NBAs fourth-leading scorer. Ellis set the tone for an impressive individual 2010-11 campaign by pouring in 46 points against Houston in his teams Oct. 27 season opener. He also tallied 44 points against the Rockets in Houstons second visit to Golden State on Dec. 20.

Second-year swingman Reggie Williams was one of the NBAs most unlikely success stories in 2009-10. The left-handed perimeter marksman spent the early portion of last season in the D-League, but was called up by the Warriors for the final 24 games. Williams dazzled during his two-month stint in the NBA, including 28- and 22-point games vs. NOLA. His prolific offensive play probably shouldnt have come as a huge surprise, though: As a junior and senior at Virginia Military Institute, Williams twice led the nation in scoring, only the ninth player in Division I history to do so.

Backup point guard Acie Law, a 2007 Atlanta Hawks lottery pick, is on his fifth NBA team. The left-handed Texas A&M product is trying to cement a permanent role in the league.

Veteran role player Charlie Bell was acquired in an offseason trade with the Milwaukee Bucks. Bells offensive game consists primarily of perimeter shooting.

As a Harvard graduate, rookie point guard Jeremy Lin is an NBA rarity, the first player from the Ivy League to make it to the league since the 1990s. Hes also the first Asian-American to appear in an NBA game since 1947. Lins role with the Warriors has fluctuated early in the season; he was assigned to the D-League on Dec. 28.

A free-agent signing from the New York Knicks, David Lee has been one of the leagues more underrated players, prior to earning an All-Star appearance last season. For a Golden State team that has frequently been devoid of an interior presence, Lee appeared to be an excellent pickup. Hes made a nice impact in his first two-plus months as a Warrior, averaging a double-double in points and rebounds. However, his Golden State debut took a scary turn on Nov. 10, when Lees elbow inadvertently struck the face of Knicks player Wilson Chandler, resulting in a piece of Chandlers tooth being embedded in Lees arm. After Lees elbow was quickly infected and doctors were unable to initially stem the infection, there was a brief possibility that portions of Lees arm would have to be removed, but eventually antibiotics treated the wound. Lee, who returned to action on Nov. 27, has been wearing a large protective sleeve over the elbow.

A career-long member of the Miami Heat prior to this season, Dorell Wright has been one of the NBAs most improved players early in 2010-11. Wright, who gave his son the middle name Dwyane after close friend and former Miami teammate Dwyane Wade, is averaging career-bests in multiple categories. Through Christmas, he was second in the NBA in three-pointers made.

Rookie power forward Ekpe Udoh got a late start to this season due to a summer injury, but debuted Dec. 10 and has gradually been earning more minutes.

Ten-year veteran Vladimir Radmanovic is known primarily for his three-point shooting. The native of Serbia has played for five different teams, including both Los Angeles NBA franchises.

Andris Biedrins was the Warriors starting center for the first 25 games of the season before being sidelined with an ankle injury. The Latvian left-hander is highly effective around the basket and an excellent rebounder.

Lou Amundson stepped into the starting lineup in December after Biedrins was injured. The high-energy big man carved out a long-term job in the NBA while becoming a key member of the Phoenix Suns reserve unit in 2009-10.

Another active Warriors big man, former longtime Milwaukee reserve Dan Gadzuric is in his first season with Golden State. The UCLA product runs the floor extremely well and thrives on putbacks and dunks.

Players the Warriors want shooting free throws in a close game
Name Career FT percentage (through Dec. 28)
Stephen Curry 89.3
Led NBA in free-throw percentage as of a week ago.
Dorell Wright 79.1
Shot career-best 88.4 last season with Miami Heat.
Williams (78.8), Bell (76.8), Ellis (76.0) also above average.
If the Warriors need a three-pointer, three of their best options are
Name Career 3-PT% (through Dec. 28)
Stephen Curry 43.5
Son of former Hornet is one of NBAs premier shooters.
Reggie Williams 39.2
Went 5-for-9 vs. NOLA in two games last season.
Vladimir Radmanovic 37.4
Ten-year pro has made 800-plus career three-pointers.

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