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What we learned in Warriors' bounce-back win over Rockets

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Steph Curry driving on John Wall

Maybe this is the game the Warriors been seeking, one in which they play at a level they believe befits the roster.

Maybe.

At the least, their 125-109 win over the struggling Rockets on Saturday night gives the Warriors a day to savor success that has been so hard to come by in recent weeks.

Stephen Curry scored 38 points, 23 in the third quarter, and now is 19 points away from surpassing Wilt Chamberlain and becoming the franchise career scoring leader.

Andrew Wiggins scored 25 points and Jordan Poole came off the bench to add 21.

Rookie center James Wiseman scored six points in six minutes before leaving after sustaining a knee injury in the second quarter. He did not return, will undergo an MRI and an update is anticipated on Sunday. 

Here are three observations from a game that lifts Golden State’s record to 25-28: 

Sense of urgency exhibited

With several slow starts lately, including a falling behind 16-7 in less than five minutes on Friday, there had to come a time when the Warriors played with an urgency commensurate to their place in the standings.

And there it was on Saturday, as the Warriors put on an immediate display of energy and led for 11 of the 12 minutes in the first quarter.

Perhaps more important, they took it to another level in the second quarter, which opened with the second unit going on a 15-4 run while forcing two turnovers and holding Houston to two field goals.

 

With the Warriors talking about making a strong run to improve their playoff position and the season reaching the three-quarter point Monday, time is of the essence. That was evident in this game.

The Oubre void, nicely filled

With Kelly Oubre Jr., who averaged 20.7 points over his last three games, sidelined by a sprained left wrist sustained Friday, the Warriors needed someone to fill the void at both ends.

Instead, three players stepped up.

Wiggins, who averaged 13.3 points over the last three games, brought the offense, with 25 points on 11-of-20 shooting, including 1-of-4 from deep. He took over the offense in the pivotal second quarter, pouring in 13 points on 6-of-7 shooting in seven minutes.

Poole, who had been struggling with his 3-point shot, was asserted early and maintained it while orchestrating the offense from the point. His 21 points came on 8-of-11 shooting, including 3-of-5 beyond the arc.

Kent Bazemore, who started in place of Oubre, played solid defense and sprinkled numbers across most of the stat sheet. He totaled nine points, seven rebounds, four assists, two steals and a block.

It’s unknown how long Oubre will be out, but the Warriors had to like these contributions. 

Signs of a defensive revival

Seven of Golden State’s last eight opponents shot above 47 percent, including five that topped 51 percent. That’s explains much of their skid in recent weeks.

In this game, however, there were indications that it’s coming back.

It’s not that the Warriors locked down the Rockets, who shot 47.1 percent, but they have to be encouraged by the ability to dig in on defense when it’s needed. The Warriors took command in the second quarter largely because they held Houston to 31.6-percent shooting and posted a 33-18 advantage in the quarter.

There was a time earlier this season when the Warriors were a top-five NBA defense. Honestly. They have fallen from those heights and been a bottom-10 bunch since the All-Star break.

There’s no way the Warriors climb up the standings without the defense getting back to its previous level.