Warriors were Bad, Pelicans were Uncharacteristically Hot and Beat Warriors 116-100
After winning both of the first two games at home, the Golden State Warriors (6-1) flew to Louisiana to play Game Three against the New Orleans Pelicans (4-2). The Pelicans were looking to find the same form they had against the Trail Blazers, as well as avoid death and a 3-0 deficit. The Warriors were looking to build off Stephen Curry’s triumphant return, and use his skills to show off the most refined, versatile, and effective offense in the NBA to take a commanding 3-0 lead. The Warriors also made two lineup changed to start the game, as the re-inserted Stephen Curry back into the starting lineup, and JaVale McGee got the start as Andre Iguodala and Nick Young returned to the bench. The Pelicans went on to beat the Warriors 119-100.
Both teams opened the first quarter extremely cold, and no one scored for the first several possessions, but the Warriors looked significantly worse than the Pelicans for the first couple of minutes, starting the game 1/9 from the field. The Pelicans were in now way efficient, but they did have a 4-0 lead before the Warriors were able to start scoring again. Kevin Durant put the ball through the hoop twice, and Stephen Curry had an impressive and-1 while being strangled, and those were the only seven points that the Warriors scored in the first five minutes. The Pelicans scored just six, as they looked just as sloppy as the Warriors, and the two teams combined to turn the ball over six times in the first five minutes. Alvin Gentry called a timeout, and immediately after the whistle, Rajon Rondo went after Draymond Green again as the two got in each other’s faces. After the timeout, the Pelicans went on a run that saw them hit three 3-pointers, two from Solomon Hill, and one from Anthony Davis. The three was the first shot Anthony Davis had made in the game, and Solomon Hill looked like he was getting in a nice groove after being unable to hit a shot in Oakland. The Warriors offense was beginning to sputter, as Stephen Curry was back on the bench. Kevin Durant got a nice roll on a jumper, JaVale McGee threw down a dunk, and Draymond Green hit a three, but the offense was not looking like it did back in games one and two. The Pelicans had built and eight-point lead by the time Steve Kerr called timeout to stop the bleeding with just over three minutes left in the quarter. The Pelicans came out after that timeout with their guns blazing, and Solomon Hill hit another open three before Jrue Holiday threw down a nice dunk after using a spin move to get by Stephen Curry. Kevin Durant then got the Warriors their first points after the timeout with a turnaround jumper that hit nothing but net. The Pelicans were determined to keep scoring though, as Jrue Holiday buried a wide-open three before Kevin Durant came down and nailed another jumper after using an incredible crossover to get separation. Draymond Green then closed out the quarter with a solid dunk to cut the deficit to nine points. While neither team started the quarter shooting the ball well, the Pelicans finished it by shooting the ball very well. As a team, they shot 52.2% from the field and 60% from three in the opening quarter, while the Warriors shot just 36% from the floor and 14.3% from three. Both teams leading scorer had 11 points, and Jrue Holiday and Kevin Durant were leading the charge for their respective teams. After the first quarter, the Pelicans led the Warriors 30-21.
The second quarter started the same way that the first quarter ended, with the Pelicans shooting the ball well and the Warriors being ice cold. The Pelicans made a couple more threes, courtesy of Ian Clark, and Jrue Holiday. Nikola Mirotic hit a couple nice jumpers, ' one that looked like what LeBron was doing to the Raptors on Thursday. The Warriors offense was able to get going a little bit thanks to Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. Klay had 12 points in the first six minutes of the quarter, and he hit his first three right before the first timeout was called. Draymond Green also hit his second three of the night, but the starters for the Warriors were the only ones scoring consistently, as they only had two points off the bench, and those came on an Iguodala dunk. The Warrior did manage to cut into the deficit at the time of the time out though, and were only down by six points. After the timeout, Draymond Green threw a lob to Kevon Looney to cut the lead to four points. Anthony Davis and Kevin Durant then exchanged baskets before Nikola Mirotic pulled up and made a three from Curry-range, which Anthony Davis followed up with a put-back dunk to bring the Pelicans lead back up to nine points, and forced Steve Kerr into using a timeout. The Pelicans were able to keep scoring after that timeout as the Warriors went small using their “Hamptons 5” lineup, and that created several open threes for guys like Nikola Mirotic. Anthony Davis also was able to get a couple shots to fall around the rim, but it was a relatively quiet first half for him. The Warriors were able to hand around and did manage to cut the lead to six-points at halftime thanks to the hot shooting of Klay Thompson, who had 20 points in the second quarter after being held scoreless in the first. He nailed the last shot of the half, and it was a perfect, high-arcing three. As a team, the Warriors were shooting significantly worse than the Pelicans. The Warriors combined to shoot 43.8% from the floor and 38.9% from three, while the Pelicans shot 49% from the field and 62.5% from three. Klay Thompson overtook Kevin Durant as the team’s leading scorer with 20 points, but KD still had 13 points. Jrue Holiday and Nikola Mirotic both had 14 points to lead the Pelicans. At halftime, the New Orleans Pelicans led the Warriors 62-56.
The start of the third quarter was embarrassing for Steve Kerr and the Warriors. In the first three minutes, The Pelicans went on a 10-2 run courtesy of horrific defense from JaVale McGee, who Kerr started in the second half despite hit abysmal play in the first half. Klay Thompson scored the only points for the Warriors in the first three minutes on a jumper, but the Warriors just kept turning the ball over in addition to missing open shots. The Pelicans were in the bonus after just 2.5 minutes thanks to JaVale and his horrific defense, and the beginning of the second half was an absolute disaster as Kerr was forced to call a timeout after just 3.5 minutes. Even though JaVale McGee was taken out of the game during that time out, that did not stop the Pelicans, who proceeded to boatrace the Warriors for the next six minutes. They obliterated them in every facet of the gaem, while the Warriors played about as poorly as they could, and by the time a second timeout was called at the 4:38 mark, the Warriors were down by 20 points. The Pelicans were ridiculous in the third quarter, and outscored the Warriors 30-19, but the Warriors did end the quarter with a nice run to cut the lead to just-17 points. Anthony Davis picked up the scoring in the third and had 25 points to lead the Pelicans, while Jrue Holiday and Nikola Mirotic both had 16. Ian Clark also had 12 points in the quarter, which hurt my feelings. Both Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson had 22 points to lead the Warriors. As a team, the Warriors combined to shoot 38.2% from the field and 32% from three through three quarters, while the Pelicans were scorching hot at 45.6% from the floor and 46.2% from three. After three quarters, the Pelicans led the Warriors 92-75.
In the fourth quarter, the Pelicans still started off hot, regardless of how much I disliked it. They hit several open shots and contested shots courtesy of Ian Clark, who had 18 points in 16 minutes off the bench as of the first timeout of the fourth quarter. Klay Thompson hit a couple shots for the Warriors, but the team was still incredibly out of sync and had no rhythm as the Pelicans extended their lead to 20 points once again at the time of the first timeout. After that timeout, the Pelicans continued to play really well, much better than the Warriors, who were playing as if they didn't want to be on a basketball court. As the Pelicans lead grew, the Warriors threw in the towel and put their reserves in to close out the final five minutes of the game. The leading scorer for the Pelicans was Anthony Davis, who overcame a slow start to score 33 points on 15/27 shooting with 18 rebounds and four steals. The leading scorer for the Warriors was Klay Thompson, who had 26 points. As a team, the Warriors shot just 38% from the field and 29% from three while the Pelicans finished the game shooting 50% from the field and 45.2% from three. The Pelicans won Game Three 119-100.
The Warriors sucked today, and there isn’t really a whole lot to break down with it here, it was just an all-around terrible performance. The big three combined to shoot 23/59, which is something that is incredibly rare and will most likely not happen again for the rest of the playoffs. Draymond Green nearly had a quadruple double, with 11 points, 12 rebounds, 9 assists, and 7 turnovers. Not a single player on the Warriors who played before the final five minutes (garbage time) had a positive +/-, and the lowest +/- on the team was a tie between Kevin Durant and Draymond Green at -25, while Klay Thompson had -24 to keep pace.
The Warriors clearly just did not care enough about the game tonight, and it showed. There is not much to unpack with this game, so I am not going to unpack much of it at all.
The Pelicans played very well. Anthony Davis had 33 points, 18 rebounds, and four steals. Jrue Holiday had 21 points, Ian Clark had 18 points, Nikola Mirotic had 15 points, and E'Twaun Moore had 13 points. They had an uncharacteristically above-average shooting night which is unlikely to be replicated in any game for the rest of the series. Rajon Rondo had a good game when he wasn’t shooting 2/11. He had 21 assists and 10 rebounds.
Game Four of the Western Conference Semifinals is on Sunday, May 6 in New Orleans at 12:30 p.m. on ABC/ESPN.