LaMelo Ball hustled for an offensive board and converted the put-back to give Charlotte their first points. In his first start of the season, Cody Martin filled in admirably and played with more energy and involvement than he had all season long.
An 8-0 run from the Warriors put them ahead halfway through the third, and then Draymond Green and Kelly Oubre put on a clinic. Oubre dunked six times in the first quarter alone and Green finished with a near triple-double 7/7/8, and the Warriors shot 81 percent from the field as a team. After one, Golden State led 36-28, with LaMelo contributing 10 points on his own.
The Hornets came out in the second with a burst of energy, going on a 14-3 run that gave them a 40-39 lead four minutes into the quarter. Malik Monk hit three of his first four 3-point attempts, including this silky-smooth step-back:
Monk keeping his game in the microwave pic.twitter.com/QWMAngF9vB— Spencer Percy (@QCHspencer) February 27, 2021
Sadly, some sloppy offense and turnovers from Charlotte gave way to another Warriors run, with them reclaiming the lead about halfway through the frame. The Hornets finished the first half with 12 turnovers, five of which came in the final five minutes of the half. At the break, Golden State led 66-51. LaMelo and Monk each had 13 points to lead the Hornets.
PJ Washington scored eight quick points to begin the second half, and a triple each from LaMelo and Gordon Hayward forced Warriors head coach Steve Kerr into a timeout. Martin threw down a couple of dunks, but the offense stagnated quite a bit in the third and the Warriors slowly started pulling away.
The Hornets couldn’t keep the ball in front of them in one-on-one situations, and it’s hard to play team defense when constantly in rotation. With 3:04 left in the third, Golden State led 94-80. Steph Curry—who is still pretty good, just FYI—made a few nice plays to end the quarter and the Warriors took a 103-84 lead into the fourth.
The Hornets made exactly one shot in the fourth before Steve Kerr called a timeout, indicating that he, like most anyone still awake for the final quarter of this game, didn’t want it to last any longer than it had to. I respect it. Monk was still cooking in the fourth, aggressively hunting shots and getting into the paint to make plays for others.
Charlotte showed their usual fourth-quarter fight, which was nice to see while they were shorthanded and down big on the road. Head coach James Borrego broke out a press that worked once or twice, but the Warriors figured out how to break it quickly, and whatever momentum the Hornets had built was lost.
Rozier hit back-to-back threes and a layup to cut the deficit to 10 in the final three minutes, but a clutch triple from Oubre that made it 122-109 all but iced the game. The hope didn’t last long enough to truly reel us in, at least. After the late-game formalities and another Hornets-y late-game comeback attempt, the Warriors took home the win with a final score of 130-121.
Monk led the Hornets with 25 points to go with five boards, including 5-11 from deep. Rozier scored 14 in the fourth quarter to finish with 24 on 9-16 FG, and LaMelo had 22 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Washington recorded a 15-point 10-rebound double-double. Curry led all scorers with 29 points, Oubre put up 27, and Green had a triple-double with 11 points, 12 boards and 19 assists, tying Chris Paul for the most assists in a game in the 2020-21 season so far.
Tonight’s quick-hitters; Cody did well in his start, imagine he’s the Martin in the rotation even when Caleb returns from protocols; Rozier was invisible until the fourth; LaMelo made some egregious rookie mistakes during pivotal second/third quarter collapses; Monk stays hot, his shooting is legitimately back; bad game for Hayward but he wasn’t getting involved in the offense either; overall, not a terrible game but exemplified why they’re not ready to compete with the big boys just yet; THIS TEAM NEEDS CODY ZELLER REALLY, REALLY BADLY.