BY DANIEL GLUSKOTER
Returning to Chase Center for the only time in the midst of an eight game stretch to close out the first half of the season, the Warriors avenged a last-second road loss in Charlotte six days ago with an impressive 130-121 victory over the Hornets Friday night.
The win was Golden State’s third straight, a seemingly routine feat for the team during it’s halcyon days in Oakland, but one that the team has struggled to achieve since moving into it’s new arena.
Draymond Green, continuing to atone for his loss of control that cost the Warriors a win in Charlotte, set the tone early for a monster game with a triple-double highlighted by a career-high 19 assists to go along with 11 points and 12 rebounds.
The Warriors jumped out to a 36-28 lead after the first quarter, by which time Green already had posted seven points and rebounds to go along with eight assists. Kelly Oubre Jr. was also hot out of the gate, scoring 15 first quarter points on 7-9 shooting before finishing the night with 27 points.
The game also featured a glimpse of the future of the NBA as Warriors center James Wiseman and Hornets guard LaMelo Ball faced off for the first time. Both just 19-years old, and selected second (Wiseman) and third (Ball) in the 2020 draft, neither would disappoint. Ball set the tone for Charlotte, putting up 10 points of his own in the first quarter on the way to 22 for the game to go along with seven boards and six assists. Wiseman, in just his third game back after missing over three weeks, was just as good, netting 16 points in just 16 minutes of action on 7-10 shooting while being a force in the paint. Terry Rozier led the Hornets with 24.
Golden State’s balanced attack featured seven players in double figures led by Steph Curry’s 29. Andrew Wiggins added 17 for the Warriors while Kevon Looney and Damion Lee tallied 10 each.
Questioned if it was a “revenge game” for him, Green stated “You know, revenge game would be a bit of a stretch. I would say it’s just me coming out and making it right, try and do whatever I can to help this team get a win and can’t just forget about what happened last week.” Asked about his career high in assists, Green added “It means my teammates are playing well and it means we’re getting better. I think earlier in the year there was a lot of things that I wouldn’t see that I would see that other guys weren’t seeing, but with the repetition, with the time together guys are starting to see that. Kelly Oubre (Jr.) has been fantastic cutting off the ball, Wiggs (Andrew Wiggins), obviously I can always find Steph (Stephen Curry) somewhere, Wise (James Wiseman) coming and putting that pressure on the rim. It just means my teammates are playing well.”
Warriors coach Steve Kerr also lauded Green’s performance “It started right at the beginning of the game. He was picking the defense apart and I think he had six or seven assists the first time I looked up at the scoreboard late in the first quarter. He was fantastic. I think you can see that Draymond is in really good shape. Just physically he looks better and he feels better. He’s on top of his game now. He’s just been playing better and better over the last couple of weeks. He’s been locked in now for several weeks and just playing at a really high level.”
Golden State next hits the road for three games leading up to next weekends All-Star break. The Warriors start the trip in Los Angeles with a game at Staples Center against the Lakers Sunday evening at 5pm.
Golden State has also won its last three home games, its longest home winning streak this season, and improved to 12-6 at Chase Center.
The Warriors shot a season-high .608 (48-of-79 FG) from the field, improving to 10-1 this season when shooting 50 percent-or-higher from the field.
Green recorded his 25th career triple-double (Warriors are 24-1 in those games).The last Warriors player to record 19-or-more assists was Baron Davis who had 19 in 2008. He’s also the first Warriors player with four 15-assist games in a calendar month since Tim Hardaway in April 1990.
Curry’s first field goal of the night was the 6,000th of his career, joining Wilt Chamberlain (7,216), Rick Barry (6,466) and Chris Mullin (6,150) as the only Warriors to make at least 6,000 field goals for the franchise. Curry extended his consecutive games with at least one 3-pointer to 95 games, matching Klay Thompson for the third-longest streak in NBA history.