Draymond Green’s season debut Sunday at Toyota Center once again came down to Steph Curry saving the Warriors.
Curry’s four straight 3-pointers in the fourth quarter gave Golden State just enough cushion to earn a 106-95 road win over the Houston Rockets.
What seemed like a cold night for Curry turned into a riot at just the right time. Curry scored 14 points in the fourth quarter and 21 of his 24 points came in the second half. All of his points were 3-pointers and he went 6 of 14 from deep.
Green struggled in his first game back, but Chris Paul was exactly what the second unit needed off the bench in his first NBA game. Klay Thompson also made history by passing Jamal Crawford to move into 10th place on the all-time 3-point list.
Here are three takeaways from the Warriors’ 11th straight win over the Rockets.
Rust was clearly visible in Green’s season debut. In his first nine minutes, Green has already committed three turnovers and three fouls, and the Warriors were minus-9 with him on the court. He was also scoreless and had just one assist and one rebound in that span.
But he found Thompson for a signature split-action 3-pointer in the first two minutes of the second half.
Green played 20 minutes and had five-minute appearances over the course of the game. It’s safe to say he looked like someone who missed all of training camp, all of the preseason, and the first two games because of a right ankle sprain. Green finished with four points, five rebounds, five assists and four turnovers.
The starting five played a combined 18:36 and were down-2, outscored 40-38.
Sixth man CP3
Paul entered the game with seven minutes left in the first quarter and everything seemed to fall into place. The point guard replaced Green and Jonathan Kuminga came in for Andrew Wiggins, giving the Warriors a lineup of Paul, Curry, Thompson, Kuminga and Looney. Dario Saric, Gary Payton II and Moses Moody also played big roles in the first quarter.
When Paul first entered the game, the Warriors trailed 13-7 but had a 26-24 lead early in the second quarter.
The Warriors had a 10-point lead at halftime and Paul was the main man responsible for helping them find their rhythm. Although he only scored two points in the first half, Paul was a plus-23 on the seven assists he provided and he didn’t turn the ball over once. For eight and a half minutes between the first and second quarters, the Warriors were up 16 with Paul in the game and Curry on the bench.
That should relieve a lot of stress Kerr has accumulated over the years.
Paul played 27 minutes in reserve and was a game-high plus-22. He filled the stat sheet, scoring eight points and adding seven assists and five rebounds. Paul now has 28 assists with five turnovers this season.
Every bench player had a positive plus-minus and they outscored the Rockets’ bench 41-21.
GP2 finds its shot
Defense is where Payton’s impact will always be felt most. He is one of the best defenders in basketball. However, the Warriors are a much better team when Payton is hitting open 3-pointers.
And on Sunday in Houston he finally found his chance.
Payton began the day with a total of eight points in two games and was one of five from 3-point range – all in the corner. In the Warriors’ win, Payton nearly doubled his scoring with 15 points. Payton was 6 of 8 from the field and 3 of 4 from beyond the arc.
As always, its impact was felt everywhere. Payton was a plus-13 and gave the Warriors four rebounds and three steals. The beginning of the season showed why a full season with Payton in a Warriors jersey is so important.