The Warriors opened their four-game swing through the Eastern Conference with a 121-110 victory over the Hornets on Monday night at Spectrum Center in Charlotte.
All five starters scored in double digits, led by 26 points from Klay Thompson. DeMarcus Cousins poured in a season-high 24 points and Draymond Green flirted with his first triple-double of season, finishing with 14 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds.
Here are three takeaways for the Warriors’ 16th win over their last 18 road games:
It’s all in the timing
The Warriors seem to have a feel for when to crank up enough defense to turn back a team that refuse to go away -- if that team isn’t the Rockets. This was made easier by the fact that the Hornets, on offense, are nowhere near Houston’s level.
The Warriors held Charlotte to 43.1-percent shooting through three quarters and led by as much as 17 in the fourth quarter. But the Hornets stayed within striking distance, getting within seven (115-100) with 3:24 remaining.
So how did the Warriors respond? They forced four turnovers and held the Hornets to one field goal the rest of the way.
The killer instinct didn’t really surface until it had to. There was a threat, and then there wasn’t. Winning time was the right time.
The two Boogies
Word is out around the NBA. When playing the Warriors, find ways to attack the defense of DeMarcus Cousins. Ride your big man, no matter who he is.
That’s exactly what the Hornets did from the jump. Cody Zeller is, at best, a third-tier NBA center, but he looked like a star in the first quarter, using movement and slip screens to score 12 points on 5-of-5 shooting in only eight minutes.
Cousins was a step slow, a step late or completely out of position, with little backup.
This apparently ticked him off. He was a different dude in the second quarter, coming in and finding another gear. He scored 11 points on 5-of-5 shooting, including a 3-pointer, over seven minutes.
Cousins didn’t stop Zeller, who finished with a career-high 28 points on 13-of-14 shooting. But Boogie, finishing with 24 points and 11 rebounds -- over a season-high 31 minutes -- did just enough to neutralize the production of the Charlotte big man.
Still handing out gifts
The Warriors did it again. Tried to hand another game to another opponent with silly fouls and high-risk passes that led to turnovers.
They got away with it, but it’s a dangerous tendency that will be costly against most legitimate playoff-caliber teams.
The Warriors committed 15 turnovers, off which Charlotte scored 20 points. What’s worse is that the typically low-turnover Hornets totaled 12 turnovers -- a lot of them in the final minutes -- giving the Warriors 12 points.
As if the turnover discrepancy were not enough, the Warriors were whistled for 18 fouls, sending a hive of Hornets to the free throw line. Charlotte, much more disciplined, came away with a 26-13 advantage in free throws attempted.
They’ll snap out of it because they always do. But they’re giving the coaching staff plenty of salient talking points.