SAN FRANCISCO — When Klay Thompson tweets a shoutout, things must be going well.
“I can watch Gary Payton II play defense all night long,” Thompson posted.
“I could watch Klay Thompson shoot the ball all day long,” Payton said with a smile upon hearing his teammate’s compliment.
Payton came off the bench and sparked the defense, Jordan Poole took the pressure off Stephen Curry with a season-best 31 points, and the Golden State Warriors used one of their big third quarters of old to pull away and beat the Charlotte Hornets 114-92 on Wednesday night.
“That’s what I’m here for,” Payton said. “… This is what I do.”
The Warriors needed Payton’s defensive instincts and hustle in the second half.
“He dominated the game while he was out there. Just changed everything with his defense, his activity,” coach Steve Kerr said. “He is just an electric athlete. It’s hard to stand out on an NBA floor athletically ’cause all those guys are the world’s greatest athletes. And he jumps off the page when you see him out there. … His teammates love him, as they should.”
Payton scored 14 points to go with three steals and drew a rousing ovation when he left the game late. He’s the son of Hall of Famer Gary Payton and had been waived by the Warriors after the final preseason game last month only to re-sign ahead of the opener four days later to earn the final roster spot.
He vowed to stay ready and keep working, knowing a call would come from somewhere, “and thank God it came from here.”
“I love it. It’s a funny story, we worked out together during pre-draft … for two, three months,” fellow journeyman Damion Lee said. “I’m so happy for him.”
Now, Kerr plans to play Payton even more.
Poole shot 11 for 21 and hit a career-high seven 3-pointers and had a good feeling a couple of days ago he would find his shooting touch. Curry shook off a slow start and not feeling well to add 15 points on 6-for-15 shooting — 3 of 11 on 3s — nine assists and eight rebounds.
Miles Bridges scored 21 of his 32 points in the first half and finished with five 3-pointers, and Gordon Hayward had 23 points and 11 rebounds for the Hornets.
Curry began 1 for 6 and missed his initial four 3-pointers before hitting from deep 53 seconds before halftime, when Golden State (6-1) led 53-52 and he had just five points.
Poole, who has learned from Curry and Thompson not to let a few tough shooting nights get to him, scored 22 points in the initial two quarters: shooting 8 for 11 and 6 of 9 on 3s. He sensed this kind of performance coming.
“Yeah, definitely. Went to sleep a couple nights ago and I felt it,” said Poole, who also had four steals.
LaMelo Ball had 14 points, eight assists and five rebounds but shot just 5 for 14 and missed all six tries from deep as Charlotte began a five-game West Coast swing.
Lee had 15 points after he missed Saturday’s win against Oklahoma City with a bruised right shoulder. He has scored in double figures every game this season.
The Warriors capitalized on a three-day break during this eight-game homestand that matches a franchise record.
Poole shined on a night the Warriors honored Tim Hardaway as they celebrate a different player each home game during their 75th anniversary season.
Kelly Oubre Jr. didn’t score and missed all four of his shots playing 13 minutes against his former team after spending last season with Golden State.
“Just too many turnovers, careless possessions, we could not get the ball to the rim,” Hornets coach James Borrego said of the third quarter. “You got to give them credit on that.”
There were seven lead changes and seven ties in the first half.
The Hornets continue their West Coast swing with a game in Sacramento on Friday.