SAN FRANCISCO — Golden State Warriors center Kevon Looney will miss at least the “next couple games” after spraining his left ankle during the first half of Tuesday’s 111-107 loss to the Boston Celtics, head coach Steve Kerr said.
An MRI late Tuesday confirmed the sprain, according to the Warriors.
“I don’t expect him to play the next couple of games,” Kerr said in a video conference with reporters after the game. “It was a significant enough sprain where it looks like he’ll be out for a little bit.”
The injury occurred with a little over two minutes to play in the first half. Looney appeared to step wrong as his ankle turned. He stayed in the game for a few more moments but eventually was replaced by Juan Toscano-Anderson. Looney went straight to the locker room and never returned.
“This was a fluke,” Kerr said, noting that Looney was only supposed to play 25 minutes, “at the most.” “He caught his foot on the floor and rolled the ankle. Just the way it goes. I feel bad for him because he’s worked so hard to get back to this space, and he’s really been playing well for us, so it’s a big blow.”
The Warriors are already playing short-handed without rookie center James Wiseman, who sprained his left wrist in Saturday’s home win over the Detroit Pistons. Wiseman had an MRI on Sunday that revealed the sprain, and he is scheduled to be reevaluated in a week.
Marquese Chriss, who was expected to provide rotational minutes off the Warriors’ bench, sustained an ankle injury in the first week of the season during a practice in Chicago. It remains unclear whether Chriss will be able to return this season.
Kerr said that with Looney now out for a stretch, Toscano-Anderson, who is on a two-way contract, will be leaned on even more to fill minutes in the rotation.
“Eric Paschall becomes a bigger part of what we’re doing, and so does Juan,” Kerr said. “I guess Juan sort of qualifies as a big man, kind of. Eric definitely does. So we’ll be short-handed. Draymond [Green] will play a lot of 5, and Eric will get more minutes — and we’ll see what happens from there.”
As Kerr figures out what his next step will be, he also must determine what to do with struggling swingman Kelly Oubre Jr. Oubre has had trouble finding a rhythm since being acquired in a deal from the Oklahoma City Thunder prior to the season. He was benched for the final four minutes of Tuesday’s loss and finished with a -25 plus/minus.
Kerr said he decided to go with veteran Kent Bazemore down the stretch because Bazemore was having a solid game.
After starting 4-for-4 from the field, Oubre finished just 1-for-7 and had little impact on the game as he dealt with foul trouble.
“Kelly’s had some really good nights for us of late,” Kerr said. “This is the NBA. This is what it’s like to be a player in this league. There’s a lot of ups and downs, and I know it’s been a rocky first quarter of the season for him, but he’s helped us quite a bit too. We just went in a different direction down the stretch tonight.”
Kerr was asked whether Oubre’s struggles would warrant a potential change in the swingman’s place in the lineup. The coach pushed back on that idea, believing Oubre would bounce back as the Warriors get ready on a four-game road swing through Dallas and San Antonio that starts on Thursday.
“I’m not looking at anything like that,” Kerr said. “The biggest thing right now is we have to get together as a staff and figure out without Looney, without James, who are we going to start? What’s the rotation going to look like to make up for not having a true center.”
Warriors star guard Stephen Curry is confident his team will make the most out of its current roster situation, playing without so many big men.
“You kind of have to flip it on its head,” Curry said of the Warriors small-ball lineup. “Everybody’s going to talk about what we can’t do with a small-ball lineup; but we can focus on what we can do, and that’s play fast, get everybody involved, ball can be moving. Create chaos on both ends of the floor and then figure out how you rebound and how you shore up the paint on the defensive end.
“So with Dallas and San Antonio, it will be interesting because they do — [Kristaps] Porzingis is huge, but they do play a lot of small ball too, so maybe that will match up well for us.”
Curry had to chuckle after being asked the last time he played on a team when the tallest healthy player was 6-foot-7.
“Even my high school team, I think we had a 6-9 guy at one point,” Curry said. “So I don’t remember. Maybe JV. But it’s one of those — it’s the situation that we have. So we got to figure out how to overcome it until we get our guys back and we’ll have guys step up ready to go.”