Andre Iguodala returned to the court for the Warriors on Tuesday night, and all of a sudden, it seemed as if all the flaws that had plagued the team over the weeks he was out with a hamstring injury had suddenly disappeared.
The swingman scored just two points and played only 17 minutes against the New Orleans Pelicans, with coach Mark Jackson saying after the game he wanted to keep Iguodala on short leash to avoid reaggravating the injury.
Iguodala said Wednesday he felt fine and is looking forward to more action tonight when the Warriors (14-12) host the San Antonio Spurs for the first time since last season’s playoffs. The Spurs defeated the Warriors 76-74 on Nov. 8 in San Antonio.
It was easier to allow Iguodala rest with a lead that stretched past 20 points at times, with the team clicking on all cylinders for the first time in weeks.
Jackson was careful to give his player some credit without overstating it.
“We played our brand of basketball,” Jackson said. “At the same time, I don’t want to minimize the importance that Andre is to this basketball team. He’s a calming effect, high-IQ game, pushes everybody down another notch so now the bench is stronger. I think it’s a combination of us playing defense and offense the way we’re capable of playing, us taking care of the basketball and then having him back. So it’s a combination of both.”
Jackson and Iguodala said it remains to be seen how much time he will spend on the court, however, as Jackson said he wanted to wait to see how Iguodala feels Thursday to make that call.
Despite not playing since Nov. 22, Iguodala said he doesn’t feel he’s gotten out of shape while watching from the sidelines.
“I didn’t get fatigued at all [Tuesday] night,” he said. “I think I had three days off after the injury because I couldn’t do anything, but after that it’s been nonstop every day, so I feel like I’ve been in decent shape, in pretty good shape, still got to get in that game shape. It’s a different level.”
Thursday night’s game still provides a much tougher challenge against the team that knocked Golden State out of the playoffs in the second round last season. The Warriors will hope to get a boost from the absence of Spurs point guard Tony Parker, who is not expected to play due to a shin contusion.
NOTE: The Warriors will host a pregame toy drive Thursday night. The first 400 fans who bring a new, unwrapped toy will receive a limited-edition Warriors holiday photo.