What we learned as newcomers thrive in Dubs' win vs. Rockets


SAN FRANCISCO -- On the first night of a back-to-back, the Warriors took care of business, beating the Houston Rockets 120-107.

Golden State was heavily favored entering Sunday's contest at Chase Center, but with Houston playing some of the Western Conference's best teams down to the wire and the Warriors' history of playing down to the level of competition, there was an understandable bit of concern that this game would be a tough one.

However, the Warriors put together a complete 48 minutes of solid basketball, never falling into some of the nasty habits that have bitten them before, and improved to 8-1 on the season.

Golden State again saw scoring contributions from top to bottom, a high number of assists and rebounds, and solid and active defense.

Sure, moving forward, we'll have to see if the Warriors can maintain this level of clean and well-executed basketball against higher-caliber teams, but there still are some things to take away from their victory over the Rockets (1-9).

Here are three observations from the night:

Jordan Poole shows more aggression

After Poole's scoring barrage in Friday's win over the Pelicans, Andre Iguodala said the next thing he wanted to see from the guard was him getting to the free-throw line more frequently.

Poole wasted no time doing that against the Rockets, going 4 of 4 from the stripe in the first quarter. He attempted seven free throws in the first half and nine total by the end of the night.

Poole getting the extra points is a plus for the Warriors, but what's even better is that him drawing contact shows he's willing to attack the hoop. This is something Warriors coach Steve Kerr told NBC Sports Bay Area he wants to see more of from Poole.

Obviously, Poole's shooting is the loudest part of his game. But, according to Kerr, Poole is one of Golden State's best players at breaking down opposing defenses and driving in the paint. The fact that all but two of his buckets against the Rockets were in the paint, leading him to a game-high 25 points, and the noted free-throw increase is evidence he's taking it to heart.

The newbies are finding their groove

It seems like every game, a different Warriors bench player is the one to give the second unit extra scoring punch.

On Sunday, it was Otto Porter Jr. and Nemanja Bjelica, who shot a combined 8 of 10 from beyond the arc.

Porter finished with 15 points, all coming on 3-pointers. Three of his five threes came on consecutive plays in the second quarter.

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Meanwhile, Bjelica got going in the third, shooting 3 of 4 from long distance in that quarter alone. But what's more impressive about Bjelica's evening is that while it took him until the third quarter to score, he finished the game with a plus-21 net rating. This comes just one game after he boasted a plus-33.

The fact that Bjelica and Porter already are this comfortable within the Warriors' system just nine games into the season is an exciting sign for what's to come as they get even more time with the team under their belts.

Young Glove has a hand in the win

It's starting to feel like every game requires an obligatory Gary Payton II takeaway. And with the way he has been playing lately, he deserves them.

Against the Rockets, he scored 10 points on 5-of-6 shooting from the field, and also posted a team-high plus-27 net rating. Payton's presence on defense comes as no surprise -- he was signed to the team's 15th roster spot as a defensive specialist. But what has been surprising is his offense contribution.

Payton's perimeter shooting was a talking point as to why he might have been kept off rosters in the past, and while it's true his shot isn't a strength, his ability to attack the rim is lethal. And don't even get us started on the bounce he has as an apparent lob threat.

A few games ago, Kerr said it would be hard to keep Payton off the floor. And in every game since that comment, Payton has proven his coach right.

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