Warriors Bounce Back, Beat Pelicans 128-120
After dropping their season opener at home to the Houston Rockets, the Warriors knew they had to win their next game. They flew to New Orleans to take on Anthony Davis and the Pelicans, who appear to be gelling much better than they did last year. The Warriors have always struggled to contain and slow down big men, and the Pelicans have two of the best in the NBA, so this was a true test for the Warriors.
In the first quarter, the Warriors were incredibly sloppy, they committed six turnovers, which allowed New Orleans to heat up from deep. The Pelicans went 8-14 from three-point range in the opening period, which gave them a huge lead. In particular, Kevin Durant came out and quickly committed two turnovers, and Zaza Pachulia did the same. The Warriors went 4-10 from deep, and looked out of sorts, with Draymond Green and Stephen Curry both missing open looks from three. The Pelicans led after the first quarter 39-26.
The second quarter saw the Warriors scratch and claw their way back into the game. Demarcus Cousins and Draymond Green got into a bit of a foul-off early in the quarter, which resulted in Draymond picking up a technical foul, and Demarcus Cousins getting three fouls. The Warriors hit five threes, and only turned the ball over three times in the quarter. Kevin Durant began to heat up after picking up a couple of offensive fouls while driving to the hoop, but ended the quarter with a slick drive to the basket for an and-1 layup, and hit a three with only a couple seconds left in the quarter. At the half, Durant led the Warriors in scoring with 17 points, Curry had 13, and Klay ended with 10. The Pelicans hit 11 threes in the first half at a 57.3% clip, and ended the half with 64 points, which is incredibly impressive after they were held to only 91 points in their opener. The Pelicans led the Warriors 64-61 at the half.
The Splash Brothers got hot in to open up the second half to help propel the Warriors to a strong third quarter. Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry both scored ten in the quarter, bringing their totals to 20 and 23. The third quarter also saw the Warriors get their passing game working, and they were incorporating everyone into the offense, including Jordan Bell, who threw down the hammer on an alley-oop pass from Draymond Green. However, they continued to allow Anthony Davis to score at will, and he had 30 points at the end of the third. The score at the end of the quarter was 98-90.
Klay Thompson opened the fourth quarter with a quick three-pointer to keep the Warriors momentum going. Klay was the catalyst for the Warriors in the final quarter, and managed to hit big shots every time the Pelicans looked to be getting back into the game. Klay ended up with 12 points in the fourth, which brought his total to 33 which was the most on the Warriors. The Warriors scored 30 points in the fourth which helped them keep their lead at eight points, and they won the game 128-120.
Overall, my takeaway from this game was that the Warriors will again struggle to defend teams with multiple dominant big men, a problem which has plagued them for years. They were able to get the offense going in the second half, but struggled to open the game, a problem that will likely sort itself out as the season progresses, after all, it’s only game two. Kevin Durant also looks like a man on a mission this year on the defensive end, he blocked a career-high seven shots against the Pelicans, and also dropped 22 points on the offensive end. Stephen Curry dropped 28 points and looked good in the second half after his shaky start to the game.
The Pelicans played much better than they did in their first game, while being led by Anthony Davis and Demarcus Cousins, who combined for 70 points, 31 rebounds, and 10 assists. The two have appeared to gel much better so far this year than they did last year, and if they can get their bench performing better as the season progresses, they could potentially be a playoff team. If the Pelicans are fighting for a playoff spot at the deadline, they are going to be less likely to trade away Demarcus Cousins, which is good news for the Warriors, because rumors have been flying around all summer about how the Cavaliers are going to try and acquire him.
Overall, this is a game the Warriors should have won, and they did, however I think they should have won by a lot more. The problem with the Warriors right now is that they are still recovering from a trip to China, which shortened their training camp. Postgame, Head Coach Steve Kerr said: “We're basically still in training camp, in my mind" which makes sense with how he was managed his rotations through two games. The Warriors will probably be on the uptick from here on out, and will figure out their rotations and spacing and dominate the rest of the league like we all know they will.
The Warriors’ next game is tomorrow, October 21, in Memphis against the Grizzlies at 5 p.m.