The New Orleans Pelicans Zion Williamson (1) puts up a hand to stop the Golden State Warriors Ken Bazemore’s (right) shot on Mon May 3, 2021 in New Orleans (AP News photo)
By Jerry Feitelberg
The Golden State Warriors 32-32) met the New Orleans Pelicans (29-36) for the first time this season Monday Night. With eight players available, the Warriors knew they had to find a way to stop the Pelicans’ big man, Zion Williamson. Williamson loves to go to the rim, and he usually gets fouled on his way there.
Warriors’ head coach, Steve Kerr, wanted his team to a strong start and not play catch up. The team responded to their coach’s wishes as they finished the first quarter leading 39-21. The Warriors did not relinquish the lead the entire game as they beat the Pelicans by a final score of 123-108.
In 11th place in the Western Conference, the Pelicans needed a victory Monday night to close within 2 1/2 games of the Warriors if they hoped to make the playoffs. A loss would severely hurt the Pelicans’ hopes for a playoff berth.
The Warriors came out smoking. They sprinted out to an early 17-5 lead. The Pelicans’ offense woke up to go on a 9-0 run to close within three 17-14. Stephen Curry, along with Andrew Wiggins and Juan Toscano-Anderson, had other thoughts. Curry connected on three threes to pace the Warriors to an 18-point lead at the end of the first quarter, 39-21. Curry had 17 points in the first 12 minutes of play.
The Pelicans scored the first six points of the second quarter to close within 12. Jordan Poole, Andrew Wiggins, And Juan Toscano-Anderson built the lead up to 22, 53-31. The Warriors continued to lead by twenty 66-46 with 40 seconds left in the first half.
The Pelicans took advantage of Warrior miscues in the last 40 seconds to score eight points, and they left the court trailing by 12, 66-54 but feeling confident that they could come back and win the game in the second half. Curry led the Warriors with 21. Wiggins had 14, Toscano-Anderson 10. Zion Williamson had 18 for New Orleans. Brandon Ingram had 11.
The Pelicans started the third quarter with a bucket to make it 66-56. Curry answered with two three-pointers to give the Warriors a 16-point advantage, 72-56. The Pelicans went on the offensive with a 14-3 run to close within six 79-73. Curry righted the ship as the Warriors finished the third quarter with a 15-point lead 95-80.
Andrew Wiggins was the key player on the second unit that started the fourth quarter. Andrew knocked down two threes and two two-point baskets to put the Warriors ahead 105-87. Draymond Green came back into the game with nine minutes left, and Curry came back with eight minutes remaining.
Curry had to be careful as he had committed four fouls. The Warriors found a way to stop Williamson, Brandon Ingram, and Lonzo Ball. The Warriors led 119-100 after Kent Bazemore knocked down a three. Steve Kerr inserted his seldom-used bench players to finish the game. The Warriors win 123-108.
Game notes and Stats-With the win, the Warriors are 33-32 for the year. They have seven games left in the regular season. They play one more on the road Tuesday night in New Orleans. The final six are at the Chase Center in San Francisco. The Pelicans are now 29-36 with seven games left on their schedule. They play the Warriors Tuesday night and once more in San Francisco.
The Scoring leader for the Warriors was, are you ready for this, Curry. Curry’s line was 41 points, four rebounds, and eight assists. Curry was 14-foe-26 from the floor and 8-for-18 from three-point range. Andrew Wiggins, again playing well on both ends of the court, contributed 26 points.
Green had another triple-double. The Warriors rarely lose when Green records a triple-double, and Monday night was not an exception. Green’s line was ten points, 13 rebounds, and 15 assists. Toscano-Anderson had 14, Jordan Poole 11, Bazemore 9.
The Warriors shot 53% from the floor and made 17 three in 44 attempts. On defense, the Warriors had nine steals and eight blocked shots. They forced 16 Pelican turnovers that resulted in 29 points for the Warriors. The one negative was the number of fouls they committed.
The Pelicans were awarded 32 free throws. They made 25. The Warriors scored 12. That 13-point difference made the game seem closer than it was. Zion Williamson let the Pelicans with 32. Brandon Ingram finished with 19. Eric Bledsoe had 11. The Warriors held Lonzo Ball to seven points. Ball was one-for-nine from downtown.
The Warriors meet the Pelicans again Tuesday night in New Orleans. The game will start at 5 pm.