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Poole leads balanced attack as Warriors dispatch struggling Rockets

It’s getting tiring, and a little cliché, mentioning how every Warriors victory is a quintessential team win. But a big reason clichés become overused tropes is because they’re true.

Golden State (8-1) easily dispatched the visiting Houston Rockets 120-107 Sunday behind a balanced scoring attack up and down their lineup.

October was a good month for the Warriors. They ended it 5-1 record and Stephen Curry won the first Player of the Week award of the year. But enter November, one Warrior was struggling to find his rhythm: Jordan Poole.

This story will be updated with quotes and post-game material from the Warriors locker room at Chase Center.

Poole was averaging 14 points a game; an improvement from last season’s 12, but not as big a leap as many expected based on his preseason.

Poole finished sixth in preseason scoring and looked poised to provide a huge scoring punch for the Warriors, who were still without Klay Thompson. That didn’t happen.

But as a new month took over the calendar, so did a new Poole. Through the first three games of November, the third-year guard has averaged 27.3 points per game, picking up all the slack while Curry hasn’t been his usual dynamic self.

Poole had 25 Sunday, adding to his case to be in the running for Most Improved Player.

Last game Andre Iguodala talked about how Poole needed to get to the line more. Sunday, Poole did just that, shooting 9-of-9 from the charity stripe, equaling his season total for makes.

It wasn’t a concerted effort, Kerr said, it was just Poole taking what the defense gave him:

I just think he had some openings and attacked and just did a nice job recognizing driving lanes. That’s big, if he can get to the line, he’s obviously a great foul shooter and we can get our defense set up when anybody is at the line.”

Poole was joined in double figures by Curry, Andrew Wiggins, Otto Porter Jr. and Gary Payton II, while Nemanja Bjelica finished just shy with nine.

The only thing that could stop Poole was fouls, also true for half the Warriors roster. Poole, Curry, Green and Bjelica all spent time in foul trouble, which allowed the lowly Rockets (1-9) to keep it close.

Houston didn’t shoot the ball great, they turned it over, they played objectively awful defense, but they did shoot 37 free throws. And that was enough to keep them in the game – for three quarters at least.

But once the Warriors went to their patented bench quartet of Curry, Green, Bjelica and Payton, the game shifted on its axis.

Damion Lee joined that group Sunday in the interchangeable shooter spot. Once Lee replaced Wiggins, the Warriors ripped off a 16-3 run to close the third quarter and put the Rockets out of their misery.

Payton said the bench group’s chemistry is really the key to them playing so well:

Just unselfishness. Beli, Juan, D-Lee, we a number of different units we can do. JP, Wiggs. Its just everybody’s being unselfish and looking for each other. We have amazing shooting. We got guys who can cut and create for shooters and shooters who can create for guys who cut.”

Payton once again led the team in plus-minus with a plus-27 in 20 minutes, scoring 10 points, his third-straight game scoring in double figures.

He’s an insane plus-68 over his last three games in just 55 minutes. It’s fair to wonder before every game if this is the one he comes back down to earth, but he just keeps going out and stacking up impressive performances.

It’s no longer a surprise to see him throw down a highlight dunk or start a fast break with a strip. It’s now expected.

Kerr echoed those statement’s and said Payton has just been consistently good:

Plus-27 tonight for Gary, he’s just doing it nightly… I think what’s great about this year’s team is we have a lot of shooting, a lot of shooting, which opens up the floor for Gary. So, this year’s team is a much better fit for him than last year’s team was and that’s why he’s able to make such a big impact now.”

Payton has been joined by Porter, who’s been peaking at the exact same time. The 6-foot-8 wing is starting to shoot like he has his entire career, knocking down five 3’s Sunday.

Payton said Porter has been striping the 3 in practice, and that the makes in the game are just expected now:

We know he’s been hot, we tell him to stay hot … We trust him, we run plays to get him going because we know how valuable he is around the arc.”

Porter has hit multiple 3’s in five of his last six games and when he plays with Curry, opens up the court so much.

Kerr said the presence of Bjelica and Porter has given the Warriors a totally new offensive look:

Otto and Beli have just given us a totally different dimension than anything we’ve had since I’ve been here. Just having two bigs who can shoot 3s like that, it really opens up the floor.z’

And the Warriors are going to need everyone this next week as they play a packed schedule with four games in five days. It will be an early test for this team, but with the way they have been getting balanced scoring from any number of players, it doesn’t seem like that big of an ask.

Up Next

There will be no rest, as the Warriors take the court 24 hours later when Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks (4-6) come to town Monday. The Hawks come in hungry as they’ve lost their last three games and five of their last six.

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