Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (23) reacts after making a 3-point basket in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the New Orleans Pelicans in New Orleans, Monday, Dec. 4, 2017. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
by Jerry Feitelberg
The Warriors were thoroughly outplayed in the first half of Monday night’s game with the New Orleans Pelicans at the Smoothie King Arena in the Crescent City.
Everything worked for the Pelicans in the first half. They had terrific ball movement, they were making three point shots, they were rebounding, and they were beating the Warriors. However, the Warriors are the defending NBA champions, and they showed the Pelicans as they started the third quarter on a 15-0 run and stopped the Pelican offense cold as they won 125-115.
The Pelicans were playing without their big man, Anthony Davis, who was out with a groin strain. They still had to deal with Demarcus Cousins and Jrue Holiday. Cousins, perhaps the best center in the NBA, was a force in the middle. He has been effective making three point shots, and that gives his game an added dimension. The Warriors could usually handle Cousins when he was with the Kings, but he has a better supporting cast in New Orleans.
The Pelicans offense really clicked in the first half, and their defense had Golden State completely out of sync. Holiday led the Pelicans with 23 points in the half. E’Twaun Moore had 13. Rajon Rondo had eight, Dante Cunningham had nine, and Cousins knocked down 11.
Steph Curry led the Dubs with 12, but he was just 3-9 from the floor. Durant had nine, McGee had five, Green had six and Klay Thompson had just two. The Pelicans led by 20 at the half (69-49). The Warriors looked tired as they made 10 turnovers and were outrebounded 28-26. The Pelicans recorded 20 assists while the Dubs had just 14.
The Warriors, as most fans know, seem to figure out what to do at the halftime intermission and get going in the third quarter. They did exactly that. They started the quarter on a 15-0 run to cut the deficit to just five points. The Pelicans calmed down and didn’t appear to be fazed as they were able to maintain the lead and were up by six (82-76). It was at this point that Holiday got hot and propelled the Pelicans to a 91-80 advantage. Curry took over, and he scored the last eight points of the period to make it a 91-88 game. The Warriors outscored the Pelicans 37-22 in the quarter.
The Warriors continued to roll in the fourth quarter. They found their rhythm and were back in sync. The lead changed hands several times, but the Pelicans were starting to wilt. They regained the lead 105-102 but Steph made a three-pointer, and Nick Young came up big with two consecutive three-point shots that put the Warriors ahead for good. The Warriors increased the lead to ten (120-110) when Steph injured his ankle and had to leave the game. The Warriors were able to hold on, and they won 125-115.
Game notes and stats — Zaza Pachulia did not play Monday night as he had a sore shoulder. JaVale McGee made his first start of the season. Patrick McCaw was injured in the first half when he was hammered on the head and appeared to have blood running from his nose. He was taken to the locker room and did not return. Shaun Livingston was given the night off.
The other injury occurred late in the game when Curry appeared to twist his right ankle. He hobbled to the locker room, and X-Rays were taken. The X-Rays were negative which is a good sign. Curry said he will “see how it feels tomorrow and go from there” “The surgical repairs from five or six years ago are fine.”
Cousins and Kevin Durant were both ejected from the game with just 1:13 left to play. Each player had a technical called on them earlier in the game, and since this was their second technical, they had to exit.
Curry led the Dubs with 31. Thompson came to life in the second half and finished with 22. Green and Durant finished with 19. Holiday had 34, and Moore had a career-high 27 points in a losing effort. The Warriors are 19-6 while the Pelicans fall to 12-12
The Warriors play game five of the six-game road trip in Curry’s hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina. Game time is at 4 pm PST.