It took 66 days, 34 games and one very determined Draymond Green, but the Warriors finally have their first three-game win streak of the season.
With Green leading the way, the Warriors maneuvered their way to a 130-121 victory over the stubborn Charlotte Hornets (15-16) on Saturday night at Chase Center.
While Green posted a career-high 19 assists in his first triple-double of the season and 25th of his career, he was among seven Warriors to score in double figures, led by Stephen Curry’s 29 points and 27 from backcourt-mate Kelly Oubre Jr.
Here are three takeaways from a game that lifted the Warriors (19-15) to four games over .500 for the first time this season.
Man on Fire
For seven days, Green stewed over his sins in Charlotte: Blamed himself for the Warriors losing a winnable game. Apologized to his teammates. Said he owed them one.
A week’s worth of fury came pouring out in the rematch. Playing with postseason intensity from the opening tip, Draymond delivered a first quarter for the ages: seven points, seven rebounds and nine assists. He didn’t relent. He totaled 11 points and 12 rebounds, along with his whopping 19 assists.
This is one of those games that serves as a searing protest to the narrative that Green can’t summon his best. He may not need it every game – he never did – but these 36 minutes during which he was plus-23, are proof that he can reach back and get it.
His teammates, who denied any need for reparation, are nonetheless paid in full.
Hornets point guard LaMelo Ball quickly became the front-runner in the NBA Rookie of the Year race, but Warriors big man James Wiseman was mounting a serious challenge before spraining his wrist four weeks ago.
So, this was Wiseman’s only chance to outshine Ball and get back into the race. Didn’t happen, as the two made roughly the same impact.
Wiseman’s numbers: 15 points, four rebounds. He was minus-two in 17 minutes. He played OK.
Ball’s numbers: 22 points, seven rebounds, six assists. He was minus-14 in 37 minutes. He had nicer numbers, but also shoulders a bigger responsibility.
Ball has such a substantial lead that if there were a Rookie of the Year for the first half the season, he’d already have it.
The Wanamaker problem
The Warriors signed Brad Wanamaker because he was steady and heady and, so they thought, ready to be a solid backup point guard. Based on two seasons with Boston, this made sense.
It has not worked out so well, and this game was another example. Wanamaker had two points and two turnovers. In a game the Warriors won by nine, he was minus-14 in 12 minutes. That makes four consecutive games where he was in the minus column, totaling minus-40.
Coach Steve Kerr has been supportive, citing Wanamaker’s defense and assets as a teammate. But will the Warriors accept this over the whole season?
Meanwhile, Jordan Poole is playing well with the G-League Santa Cruz Warriors in the Orlando, Fla., bubble. Yes, his defense is an issue. Yes, Kerr continues to say there are no plans to bring Poole back to the NBA soon.
But Wanamaker keeps giving the Warriors reasons to reconsider.