Maybe it’ll turn out that a Golden State Warriors player making some arrogant remarks to the New Orleans Pelicans bench changed and determined the entire playoff race.
The Pelicans beat the Warriors 103-100 and are now in possession of the 8th spot in the Western conference after the Thunder lost for a fourth time in a row. A game the Warriors seemed to have the game in control during the first half, but as Steve Kerr said after the game, his player weren’t properly prepared for their rivals‘ desperation early in the third, when the game got turned on its head.
Despite the impressive third quarter for the Pelicans (36-23), it came down to Stephen Curry almost tying the game on his final shot in a bizarre sequence. He went up for a 3-pointer but seemed to get fouled or at least somehow nudged by Quincy Pondexter. No call, Curry dropped the ball to the floor, picked it up and shot again, missing. It should have been called a traveling violation if it wasn’t a foul, but either way, the Pelicans had no right losing the game.
Anthony Davis scored 29 points to go with 10 rebounds and 4 blocks, most of them coming in the paint off of alley-oops or put back dunks, but was especially difficult to stop in the third quarter when he had his mid range and long range shooting stroke going. Davis, like others on his team, seemed infuriated by remarks and comments made by Warriors player(s) before the game, suggesting this was going to be an easy win for the team with the best record in the league.
Although the Warriors don’t have to worry about their record or home court advantage, Steve Kerr isn’t letting his players rest, which who knows, might prove to be costly when the postseason begins. Stephen Curry scored 25 points on 5-of-8 from beyond the arc and Draymond Green finished with 24 points, but the rest of the team shot just 38.9% from the field, including just 2-of-10 from the field for Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala not doing much better off the bench, hitting only 3 of his 10 attempts.
Quincy Pondexter scored 20 points while Tyreke Evans, still playing the point guard while Jrue Holiday is out, finished with 12 points and 9 assists. It was their first win over the Warriors this season after three losses in which they conceded on average 117.3 points. It’s also their fifth win in the last six games, enabling the big turnaround in the playoff race.
With a 42-35 record, the Pelicans are now 8th in the conference, 0.5 games ahead of the Thunder (42-36). If they do end up making the playoffs after playing their remaining schedule (@ Memphis, Phoenix, @Houston, @ Minnesota, San Antonio), it’ll be the first time since 2011 that they’ve made the playoffs. Who knows, maybe the Warriors simply prefer them as their 8th seed rivals?