No dice: Kerr's gamble with Javale McGee backfires in Game 3 loss


NEW ORLEANS -- Steve Kerr has embraced and won many gambles since becoming the coach of the Warriors four years ago. He lost one Friday night.

JaVale McGee was the surprise starter at center for Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinals and it did not go well in a 119-100 loss to the Pelicans.

“We wanted to use our depth,” Kerr explained. “We know we’ve got two games in basically a day and a half, so we wanted to buy some minutes early, a little bit like we did with Nick (Young) in the first two games.

“Some of it was the math behind it, but I kind of liked the idea of having the lob threat out there while (Stephen Curry) was on the floor. I thought, maybe, he could run in transition and get a few hoops early. We knew it wasn’t going to be a long-term, long-minute night, but I thought we could get a quick burst.”

No such burst materialized. The Warriors’ first six possessions ended in two turnovers and four missed shots. It was even worse in the third quarter, in which McGee also started. New Orleans opened with 10-2 run, after which McGee left the game for good.

McGee played a total of nine minutes and totaled 2 points, two rebounds and two fouls. He was minus-10 for his effort.

What’s in store for Game 4? Will Kerr turn to Kevon Looney as the starter, leaving Kevin Durant and Green at forwards? Or will the coach start Andre Igoudala at small forward, moving Durant to power forward and Green to center.

When asked if anticipates getting more minutes at center, Green did not hesitate.

“I do expect that,” he said. “We’ve been successful with it, so I 100-percent expect that.”

Based on the results of Game 3, it’s a reasonable assumption that Green will see an increase in minutes at center, regardless of whether he starts.

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