Warriors squash Hornets in dominant win

ORACLE ARENA — The Charlotte Hornets came into Oracle one night after their first win against a Western Conference team (Phoenix) looking to take down the Warriors.

But the Warriors sprinted ahead in the second quarter, never looking back and crushing the Hornets 112-87.

Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said the victory showcased his team’s most complete game of the season:

“The defense was terrific and that fueled our offense. We challenged their shots … and when we can defend like that and force misses then we can get out and run. Offensively we were just very patient and that’s what we’ve been trying to preach.”

Up by just five after the first quarter, with Klay Thompson scoreless, Golden State looked like it might give Charlotte a fighting chance. But a second quarter explosion from the Warriors crushed any hope of victory the Hornets may have had.

At the 7:18 mark in the second, Thompson scored his first points and then unleashed an offensive flurry of buckets, going into halftime leading all scores with 16 points.

Thompson told SFBay his aggressive attacking of the basket allowed him to find better shots and, after he started hitting, he was on:

“I got to see the ball go in a couple times and was aggressive getting to the rim. When you do that it’s always going to open up  your outside jumper.”

It wasn’t just Thompson (21 points) that was on his game. In the second quarter the Warriors outscored the Hornets 39-23, shooting 64 percent from the field with help coming from across the roster and Stephen Curry defensively stifling Kemba Walker. By halftime the Warriors had ran up a 67-46 lead.

With an already large advantage in the third, Golden State tightened its grip, gaining a 34-point lead in the final quarter and allowing the deep bench players — Brandon Rush, Ognjen Kuzmic and Justin Holiday — to log valuable minutes.

Hornets coach Steve Clifford said his team didn’t show much effort or intensity:

“You have to have a certain energy level and readiness to play, especially against a team as good as them, which we didn’t have. They can make you look bad, and that’s what happened.”

In the victory, five Warriors finished the night in double digits, but Marreese Speights‘ performance stuck out.

Speights continues to impress Kerr every time he is called upon. In Saturday’s victory — backing up Andrew Bogut (13 points, nine rebounds) — he did just that from the moment he stepped on the floor, logging 13 points and six rebounds in just 15 minutes.

Speights has been praised in length by his coach over the last two weeks, but it was Bogut who gushed about him after Saturday’s game:

“He’s been huge for us. He’s honestly one of the most talented guys in this locker room in my opinion. He’s very very talented and he can shoot the ball so well. I think for him its just about getting the feel and getting involved.”

The Warriors, now 7-2, will be in Los Angeles Sunday, visiting the Lakers leading into a four-day break before hosting the Utah Jazz Friday.

Notes

The Warriors are off to their first 7-2 start since 1994-95. … Golden State set season highs for points in a quarter with 39 points in the second frame and points in a half with 67 in the first. … The Warriors debuted their slate-colored jerseys tonight, becoming the first NBA team to wear the color in a game. … Making his 200th career start, Klay Thompson registered his fifth 20-point game of the season with a game-high 21 points. Thompson scored 16 of his 21 points in the second quarter, the highest scoring quarter by a Warrior this season. … Noah Vonleh, the ninth overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, make his NBA debut tonight logging 5:57 for the Hornets.


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