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No Steph, no Dray, no problem

Golden State improves to 4-0 in the preseason.

Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

The Golden State Warriors open the season in exactly one week, in the same arena, and against the same Los Angeles Lakers team that they played on Tuesday night, in their penultimate preseason game.

If that game goes anything like this one did — or like Friday’s matchup between the two teams went — then everyone in Dub Nation will be happy.

Golden State made it four straight wins to open the preseason on Tuesday, besting the winless Lakers 111-99. And here’s the best part: Steph Curry and Draymond Green rested for the Warriors, while the Lakers star trifecta of LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Russell Westbrook all took the court, and all played heavy minutes.

Who needs LeBron, AD, and Russ, when you have Jordan Poole, Damion Lee, Otto Porter Jr., and Gary Payton II?

It was a strong defensive start for the Warriors, but their lack of star power started to show early, as the Lakers pulled out an eight-point lead after one quarter. But the Dubs chipped away in the second quarter, playing suffocating defense and finding enough offensive rhythm (shoutout to Lee) to cut the deficit to two points at the break.

And then in the second half Poole took charge. After just four first-half points, the third-year guard erupted to start the second half, serving as the best player on the court, despite LA’s roster having a combined 44 All-Star appearances. Poole finished with 18 points on 7-for-14 shooting, and added 5 rebounds, 4 assists, and 1 steal, while continuing to look closer to a star than a quality role player.

His third-quarter flurry helped the Dubs tread water while the starters were in, and they took a one-point lead into the final frame. From there it was time to hand things over to the back of the benches, and Golden State cruised through a 26-15 fourth quarter that gave them a double-digit win.

Payton made his return to the court after missing the first three preseason games with a hernia, and was brilliant, registering 12 points on 5-for-7 shooting, with sensational defense and tremendous movement off the ball. The big offseason additions of Porter and Nemanja Bjelica excelled again, combining for 26 points on 9-for-20 shooting, while Andre Iguodala ran the bench unit with decisive flair, registering 5 glorious assists.

Lee finished with 16 points and 9 rebounds, reminding viewers that Poole won’t be the only player tasked with filling the Klay Thompson-sized hole in the roster for the first few months of the season.

But most importantly, the execution was simply solid. The ball moved, and so did the players. The Dubs hoisted 49 threes, and admirable number, even if they only made 11 of them. The defense was feisty, and the team was scrappy.

It doesn’t matter unless they can do it in the regular season. But there’s sure a lot of reason for optimism when you watch this team.

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