The New Orleans Pelicans have been able to make things difficult for the Golden State Warriors, but that’s not enough with Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry doing just about enough to make it a 2-0 series following a 97-87, far less than smooth win.
Things happened the opposite way from the first game. The Pelicans were off to the fast start, building a 13 point lead in the first quarter that didn’t last long. Anthony Davis and Eric Gordon scored 21 of the Pelicans’ 28 points, but couldn’t keep up their shooting as the Warriors clamped down on defense in the second half, allowing just 35 points and overall limiting the visitors to just 37.8% from the field.
I’m not sure what Monty Williams was trying to achieve with his comment about the Warriors’ crowd, but the only way to silence the fans was going off on a fast start. However, once Stephen Curry got going (22 points, 6 assists) the place got louder and louder. By the time Klay Thompson began hitting everything he tossed up in the air in the fourth quarter, it was deafening as it can get in a basketball game. Thompson led the Warriors with 26 points.
Anthony Davis had just 3 minutes of rest and finished with 26 points but on 9-of-22 from the field. Eric Gordon hit five 3-pointers and scored 23 points. However, Tyreke Evans played injured and despite his 16-10-7 stat line, often did more harm than good with or without the ball. Norris Cole playing 28 minutes (11 points) and Jrue Holiday not playing at all didn’t help either.
The Warriors got going the moment Andrew Bogut and Draymond Green started setting good screens around the perimeter for Curry and Thompson to take advantage of. It might sound a little bit simplistic, but actually fighting a bit harder through those semi screens might be the best way for the Pelicans to make things more difficult for the Warriors, who outscored their rivals by 10 points in the fourth quarter, generating the distance needed to win a tough game.
Although the Warriors didn’t win the turnover battle (13-13) they were much more efficient when running the floor, outscoring the Pelicans 24-7 on the fast break. The underdogs need to make the most of the opportunities given to them. Letting the Warriors impose their physical will for long stretches in every game is a killer for the Pelicans for a second straight time.
So is this series over or is there something to be done? The Pelicans are doing some things right because they’ve been able to make the Warriors look bad for long stretches as well. But the offense has to be smarter and more precise. As frustrating as it can be facing such a fantastic defensive team, sometimes it’s simply about thinking a little bit more, or maybe digging a bit deeper physically, if the Pelicans have anything left in reserve.