There are times when the talent disparity is so great that an obviously superior team "plays down" to their competition. No team has fell to that trap this season quite like the Golden State Warriors. It has been so clear that Tom Ziller wrote 13 rules to beating the Warriors and "Do not be elite" clocked in at the top spot. In case you've been living in a cave without decent signal the New Orleans Pelicans, even with a healthy Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday, are not elite.
Sure, the Warriors started the game ice cold missing a flurry of 3-point attempts. Almost like a wrestler starting the match by going for his finishing move only to be thwarted by producers who need the match to fill a 15 minute time slot. So the Pelicans and Warriors went back and forth. Anthony Davis got on a roll in the second quarter, thanks in large part to the defensive resistance (more accurately, lack thereof) provided by James Michael McAdoo. Halfway through the second quarter two AD free throws put the Pelicans up 42-40.
Finally, the Warriors were sufficiently perturbed to put forth a modicum of effort. Bam, 8-0 run in under two minutes. Davis battled back with six more points, cutting the Golden State lead down to just two. Wham, 9-0 run in less than a minute and a half pushes the Warrior lead to double figures. This is what it must feel like to root on a rare steak placed in front of Mike the Tiger.
Anthony Davis listed at center. pic.twitter.com/ntyE4NC2Ar— David Fisher (@usnfish) March 15, 2016
That starting lineup had some predictable issues. In the first half alone the Warriors scored 38 points in the paint. Despite struggling behind the arc Golden State shot over 55% from the floor as the Pelicans aimed to take away the 3-point shot at the expense of leaving the basket completely undefended. Omer Asik did not play in the first half and Kendrick Perkins logged just two minutes. The Warriors also dominated the battle on the glass. Rather than lose by giving up 3-pointers the Pelicans decided to permit an in-game layup line instead.
Andrew Bogut might have attempted the worst free throw in the history of the NBA in the first half. In the second he buried a 3-pointer from the top of the arc with the shot clock winding down. Going into a TV timeout the Warriors, despite hardly caring or putting forth significant effort, extended their lead to 73-55. The Pelicans were on the receiving end of a blowout the Warriors didn't even want to hand out, but simply couldn't help but deliver.
The Golden State lead continued to expand. New Orleans was simply outclassed in every facet imaginable. Stephen Curry was shooting 1-6 behind the arc and the Warriors were up 25. Anthony Davis had a -30 plus minus at one point, with Jrue Holiday close on his heels at -28. Davis had his shot blocked four times in the first half alone, even Omer Asik is impressed. After three quarters the Pelicans were shooting 31.9% from the floor and 16.7% behind the arc.
The fourth quarter existed. It happened. Thankfully no one got hurt. Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday sat for the entire quarter, as did every Warrior of note. Davis finished the night with 22 points and 12 rebounds. Holiday had 13 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists. Neither shot particularly well; Davis went 6-20 and Holiday was 5-16.
Golden State won 125-107. The margin does not demonstrate just how vast the gulf is between these two teams.
Next up, an extremely important game against the Sacramento Kings. The Kings have 25 wins so far this season, just one more than the Pelicans. Pulling even in the win column is not advised.