What we learned as Poole, GPII power Warriors past Hornets


SAN FRANCISCO — The last time the Warriors and Hornets faced off, Steph Curry didn’t play and it ended with Draymond Green getting ejected with a second left in regulation and Terry Rozier hitting the game-winner. It was the Warriors’ most brutal loss of the 2020-21 NBA season. 

Early in their first meeting of the 2021-22 NBA season on Wednesday at Chase Center, it felt like it could end with the same results. Any Warrior not named Jordan Poole couldn’t buy a bucket and the Hornets got going on offense quick.

It looked like Golden State was starting with the same lack of energy that cost them their first loss of the year against the Memphis Grizzlies last week. We won’t spend much time harping on this, because they got out of their funk quickly, but it’s something to monitor. 

The slow start doesn’t need to be talked about it much right now because the Warriors beat Charlotte convincingly, 114-92. And this game — the way Golden State (6-1) shook off its sluggish start — showed a lot of growth since the last time these two teams faced off. 

Here are three takeaways from the win over the Hornets (5-4):

Steph breaks his fourth-quarter curse

I mentioned how the last time the Warriors played the Hornets, Curry didn’t play. His absence isn’t the reason they lost that night, but it didn’t help. 

Against Charlotte on Wednesday, Curry did play, but he didn’t contribute much scoring through the first three quarters, entering the fourth with just five points. Last season, this would have either resulted in a loss or the Warriors needing to make a major comeback. 

 

But instead, Golden State entered the fourth quarter with a comfortable lead, and by the time Curry got going, he was just sealing the deal. 

Curry scored 10 of his 15 points in the fourth and ended the game shooting 6-of-15 from the floor. He also had nine assists, eight rebounds, one block and one steal. 

The reason the Warriors weren’t in trouble with Curry going cold 75 percent of the game was because of Jordan Poole.

Poole bounces back

After struggling for the past few games, Poole was one of the few bright spots — particularly offensively — for the Warriors on Wednesday. 

Besides Damion Lee, Poole was the only Warrior to find his shot early on. The six 3-pointers he made in the first half were more than any game total so far this season.

Through the first six games of the year, Poole shot 9-of-37 from distance. On Wednesday, he went 7-of-16, and finished the night with 31 points, three rebounds and four steals.

In the second half, Poole showed that he isn’t just a 3-point threat, but also has an incredible ability to attack the rim. With 3:30 left in the third quarter, Poole slammed home a dunk, just a few possessions after a missed dunk attempt. 

Coach Steve Kerr has been adamant that the up-and-down performances we’ve seen from Poole is just part of the learning curve he’s on. And Kerr is right. Frankly, if it weren’t for Poole’s stellar preseason, there wouldn’t be such lofty expectations on him this early. However, there are. And it was good to see him break out of his funk — when his team truly needed him to — and show that same fire that was there during the preseason and opening night.

Gary Payton II gets it done on both ends

The Warriors didn’t get much consistent offense outside of Poole, so it was their defense that allowed them to take a commanding lead down the stretch. That defense was led by Payton.

RELATED: Payton posterizes ex-Warrior Oubre

Just seconds into Payton’s first stint in the first quarter, he got a steal. In the third, he stayed glued to Miles Bridges’ hip as he slid down the sideline, eventually tapping the ball away. He also had several deflected passes throughout the night, including one that lead to a Poole dunk in the final three minutes of the game.

Payton was the standout on defense against the Hornets, but his offense also took center stage. He finished the game with 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting in 17 minutes, which featured several a put-back dunk and a second-chance layup in the fourth. 

When he checked out for the night, he was met with a standing ovation from the crowd and a hug from Kerr.

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