Warriors frontcourt trying to heal for stretch run

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 22, 2014 at 6:28 pm •  Published: January 22, 2014

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The Golden State Warriors are getting one big man back sooner than expected but are suddenly trying to get two banged-up starters healthy again.

Warriors backup center Jermaine O'Neal participated in full-contact drills during Wednesday's practice for the first time since undergoing right wrist surgery Dec. 13. While his return was encouraging, starting center Andrew Bogut missed practice with a right knee strain and power forward David Lee sat out with a left shoulder sprain.

Lee was injured in the fourth quarter of Golden State's 102-94 loss to Indiana on Monday night when his pump-fake drew Pacers center Roy Hibbert in the air and on top of Lee for a foul. Lee made both free throws and stayed in the game.

Bogut banged knees under the basket and briefly came out in the final quarter. He brushed off questions about the injury afterward, saying only that "I'm alright."

The injuries don't appear serious, though, as both players did some light shooting on the side during Wednesday's practice. Even still, Warriors coach Mark Jackson said he's not sure whether Bogut or Lee will be healthy enough to play Friday night when the Warriors host the Minnesota Timberwolves.

"Fortunately there's enough time between games, and we'll figure it out," Jackson said. "If they can't play, we'll move forward and other guys will be ready. Hopefully, they'll be fine."

O'Neal's participation in a full-contact scrimmage puts him well ahead of schedule.

The veteran center said doctors originally told him his recovery would take three to four months following surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right wrist. Instead, he was back at practice in less than six weeks.

O'Neal said he has no target date to return, however, Warriors general manager Bob Myers said last week that O'Neal should be back in the next two to three weeks.

O'Neal's return could provide a big boost to Golden State's bench — which has been among the NBA's least efficient units this season — and depleted frontcourt, which will likely be without fellow backup center Festus Ezeli — who's recovering from right knee surgery — until at least March.

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