New Orleans was outscored 74-46 after halftime.
By Oleh Kosel I @OlehKosel
It’s not a shock that New Orleans lost, or even how the house of cards came crumbling down, but the result is disheartening nevertheless.
The Pelicans showed a national audience that they didn’t possess enough experience, focus and poise to beat the defending World Champs on their home floor. The Warriors willed the 120-109 victory because they darn near dictated everything in the second half.
Leading the charge out of the Golden State locker room to make up a 17-point deficit was none other than … Donte DiVincenzo.
The 6’4” combo guard first slammed home Stephen Curry’s missed 3-pointer in between Brandon Ingram and Jonas Valanciunas.
After a JV travel, DiVincenzo then beat CJ McCollum off the dribble for an and-one, converting the free throw seconds later.
That 5-0 run by a role player was analogous of the Warriors’ unrelenting attack for the rest of the game.
“Our sense of urgency to start the third quarter,” Willie Green said. “We started, I believe it was 8-zip, two turnovers. You can’t give this team any life. Once they get going, once this building gets going, it’s tough to stop them.”
In a game that saw the Pelicans leading by 20 points with 38 seconds remaining in the first half, losing the third quarter 39-26 quickly erased all momentum. A significant portion of that disparity may have been preventable, though, even after having let DiVincenzo set the tone for the Warriors right out of halftime.
With 1:52 remaining in the third, Ingram’s old-fashioned 3-point play put the Pelicans ahead 85-74. Curry missed a pull-up 3-pointer coming the other way, but Kevon Looney kept the ball alive with a tip attempt. One offensive rebound turned into another, which led to a made Curry 3.
“You just can’t give them extra opportunities to get wide open looks,” Green said. “I’m proud of our effort and our competitiveness, but we didn’t put a 48-minute game together. That’s what you have to do against this team.”
Steph proceeded to hit two more 3s, which were sandwiched around another couple of Looney boards on the offensive glass, and Poole finished off the Warriors’ scoring in that frame with a dunk, which was sandwiched around two Ingram turnovers.
The Pelicans failing to consistently finish defensive possessions, play to their offensive strengths and maintain composure set the stage for an even more disastrous fourth.
The Warriors outscored the Pelicans 30-14 while the game was still on the line. To be honest, it felt out of reach much earlier than that because Golden State perpetually got to the rim with ease while New Orleans had a more difficult time of manufacturing great looks.
“Well, a part of it was, we’ve got to give them credit defensively,” Green said. “They top-locked us. They were physical, forcing us to have to go to secondary plays. We have to be more mindful during those situations to get the ball in Brandon’s hands, CJ’s hands, and then set screens, dive hard. We got stagnant. A part of that was them; a part of that was us.”
Steve Kerr pulled his regulars out of the game shortly after the Warriors had increased their lead to 118-103 with less than two minutes remaining.
Brandon Ingram finished with 26 points, eight rebounds and seven assists but also had six turnovers. Inbounding the ball more than half the length of the floor that resulted in a turnover showed his obvious frustration at the end of the third quarter.
While Ingram deserves praise for not backing down to Draymond Green and his antics in the first half and then all the difficult scores in the second, he needs to be better at the same time. A lot of his turnovers were due to a lack of patience or making the correct read. In addition, he failed to box-out DiVincenzo on the slam right out of halftime and didn’t rotate to Curry during Looney’s first set of back-to-back offensive rebounds.
Trey Murphy posted another great effort, finishing with 21 points, three rebounds and three assists. He was not only potent from the perimeter, hitting four 3s, but also made a real impact defensively in the first half (two blocks, one steal).
Herb Jones was sensational during the first 24 minutes too, ultimately finishing with 13 points, six rebounds, four assists, three 3s and two steals. Jones calmly telling an irate Green that he’s about to take a seat on the bench might have been his best highlight of the night though.
CJ McCollum made only 6-of-17 field goals for 15 points and Jonas Valanciunas had 11 points, nine rebounds and five assists.
While Valanciunas could have rebounded more strongly, realize he was not solely responsible for the Warriors’ eight second-half offensive boards. In addition to Ingram’s failed box-out of DiVincenzo, Herb not helping JV battle Gary Payton and Looney on the glass in the clip above hurt as much as all the ensuing Curry bombs.
Speaking of which, Steph finished with 39 points, eight rebounds, eight assists and eight 3s. He improved to 16-1 in his last 17 games played against the Pelicans — something to keep in mind if these two teams meet again either in the play-in tournament or playoffs.
Klay Thompson added 17 points and Jordan Poole scored 21 off Golden State’s bench.
The Warriors, who carry a wealth of big game experience, understood the moment and handled it with aplomb.
The Pelicans did not.