What began with a bang, ended with a familiar whimper against the Golden State Warriors.
Despite being on the second night of a back-to-back, the Pelicans were in the driver’s seat after twelve minutes of play. Jrue Holiday and E’Twaun Moore started out on fire, scoring New Orleans first 25 points to help the team seize a 31-17 lead after the first quarter.
Although the offense slowed in the second frame, the Pelicans largely maintained their sizable lead through half of it, and better yet, Draymond Green picked up three quick fouls in a span of less than four minutes of the game clock to take a seat on the bench for the final 7:04 of the first half. With Stephen Curry seemingly unable to find the stroke — on a night Kevin Durant was ruled out no less, the Pelicans had a golden opportunity to take advantage of the 2017 World Champions on their turf.
Naturally, the opposite occurred.
When Green sat down, New Orleans led 39-30. By the time the half ended, the score was level at 53 points apiece.
Despite so much Golden State firepower subdued — Curry making just 1 of 11 shots and the Warriors managing only three fast break points in the first half, the Pelicans lost the second quarter by a 36-22 margin. Sure, Klay Thompson and his 12 points were huge, but GSW’s role players like David West and Andre Iguodala gave New Orleans a lot of problems, too.
Were the Pelicans tired playing on the road for a second time in as many nights, or should we always give more credit to Golden State’s entire roster?
Probably both, but we also need to add a few more detrimental factors: DeMarcus Cousins and Rajon Rondo started slowly, and New Orleans bench wasn’t able to cover for them.
- Boogie made just one field goal out of five attempts before he had to sit early like Green for picking three fouls in the first half.
- Rondo, who did have several splendid assists, failed to score a single point.
- The Pelicans reserves were outscored 21-8 by the Warriors bench.
With so much out of whack for Golden State, it wasn’t a surprise to see them come out of the locker rooms on a 6-0 run to take a lead they would never relinquish. What was disheartening was the Warriors didn’t stay on the gas pedal. The Pelicans had numerous chances to make a run or two, but the team really struggled to get anything going in the second half until it was too late.
There is no doubt we should take our hats off to the Warriors defense. They smartly doubled Anthony Davis or Cousins around the paint yet did a masterful job of scrambling back out on the perimeter shooters of the Pelicans. They dared Rondo to beat them from the perimeter. Their defensive game plan was on point.
Despite the opponent’s excellence, that familiar image of shooting one self in the foot returned. The Pelicans tried to force the ball into lanes that didn’t exist. They put the Warriors into the bonus just a little more than three minutes into the fourth quarter. They failed to do a better job on the defensive glass.
A 16-point cushion for the Warriors shouldn’t have been there, but it was, which was enough of a buffer to finally withstand the run that came to late. With 4:13 remaining, the Pelicans were down just six points after Cousins drained his second three-pointer on the night, yet that would be the closest they would come.
To add insult to injury, frustrations came to a head once more in the closing minutes of a loss. Soon after Boogie picked up his fifth foul on an offensive charge, he was whistled for a technical foul after Green baited him while the Warriors were shooting free throws.
Ugh. This was Cousin’s fifth technical foul of the season, but worse, what was the point of it when the game was already out of reach?
Tonight’s loss didn’t sting, and looking back, a 3-1 Thanksgiving week record is a positive, but let’s hope Boogie losing his cool in meaningless minutes doesn’t come back to haunt the team sometime down the road.
- Ian Clark was the only Pelican player to have a positive plus/minus rating tonight. And he finished at a whopping...+1. That’s kinda how it went from the first quarter on.
- Anthony Davis didn’t have a plus-rating, but he did compensate with 30 points, 15 rebounds and a pair of both blocks and assists.
- Foul trouble robbed DeMarcus Cousins from having a night similar to Davis’. Cousins had 15 points, seven rebounds and four assists, but six turnovers and five fouls largely negated all the good work.
- If you want a metaphor for tonight’s game look at Jrue Holiday’s line: 17 points in the first quarter, seven points the remainder of the game.
- The Pelicans bench scored ten points all courtesy of Darius Miller and Tony Allen. Miller hit two of three three point attempts and Allen had a basket and a pair of free throws. Everyone else off the bench gave the Pelicans next to nothing.
- The Splash Brothers combined for 51 points and seven three pointers tonight. Steph Curry scored 14 of his team-high 27 points in the third quarter.