Warriors coast by Charlotte Hornets for third straight win


CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Even though they were short-handed, the Warriors cruised past the eternally lottery-bound Charlotte Hornets.

In his hometown, Steph Curry tallied 23 points and four assists. He and the Warriors turned the game into a layup line, outscoring the Hornets 64 to 38 in the paint.

For their third straight win, Golden State beat Charlotte, 115-97. The Warriors (39-34) are now 3-1 on their current road trip, with a pair of wins in Florida, Friday night’s blowout, and one more matchup awaiting in San Antonio. They’ve been better on the road all season, and have now won 13 of their last 16 games away from the Chase Center.

In their last three victories, the Warriors have held their opponent under 100 points.

“We’re talking a little bit more,” Chris Paul said postgame. “Starting to get in the right spots. I think we’re showing what we’re capable of when we defend.”

The Hornets are a team the Warriors are supposed to handle, and they did. To be the team they want to be, they’ll not only have to beat up overmatched opponents but also competitive ones.

Jonathan Kuminga missed his second straight game due to left knee tendinitis. The 21-year-old still felt sore after working in the morning, Steve Kerr said, but the injury doesn’t seem serious long-term.

Then shortly before tipoff, Klay Thompson was also ruled out with right knee tendinitis. Down two of their top three scorers, Golden State started Chris Paul, Steph Curry, Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green, and Trayce Jackson-Davis.

They had less shooting without Thompson. They had less athleticism without Kuminga. But even with the talent leveling off, the Warriors were still by far the better team. They were favored by 12.5 points.

Moses Moody chipped in 15 points with an increased role, and Jackson-Davis (18 points, eight rebounds, three blocks) continued to make an impact in the frontcourt. Andrew Wiggins poured in 20 for his second straight assertive performance.

Golden State constantly created open looks with high pick-and-rolls, either at the rim or in the corners. Jackson-Davis and Kevon Looney, frequent beneficiaries of the action, each scored six in the first quarter.

Charlotte star LaMelo Ball had already been ruled out for the year in the franchise’s eighth straight lottery season. Especially without Ball, the Hornets provided little resistance.

The Hornets didn’t push the pace in transition or pressure the ball defensively, looked to be running their half-court offense in slow motion, and often settled for jump shots. At one point, Curry spun the ball behind his back before shuffle-passing to Draymond Green — just because he could.

But Curry’s buzzer-beating 3 only sent the Warriors into the halftime locker room with a five-point lead. Brandon Miller started to get going at the end of the half, and Golden State appeared to play down to Charlotte’s ability at times.

In the third, Golden State shut off the faucet. Green blocked a shot to give Jackson-Davis a layup on the other end, capping a 9-0 run. At that point, the Warriors allowed just nine points in six minutes.

Green, in his first game since his fourth ejection of the season, got into a chippy moment with Grant Williams but didn’t get into any trouble.

“It’s important, we need him,” Curry said. “I said it last game, for us to try to finish the season strong, give ourselves the best shot not only in the standings, but the way we’re playing and the energy we’re building up — we just want an opportunity. And he’s a huge part of that. So, we need him on the floor.”

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