To see what transpired on Friday night in the Smoothie King Center was an atmosphere rarely seen in New Orleans, if ever. The sell-out crowd was treated to both a masterful and dominating playoff performance of possibly one of the great teams ever assembled.
For just a third time in the last 29 meetings, and as many in New Orleans are probably aware, the first time in postseason history, the Pelicans defeated the Warriors. Honestly, the 119-100 victory wasn’t as close as the score indicates because New Orleans had built a 25-point lead with 4:59 remaining before the white flag was waved.
Miscues, turnovers, and self inflicted errors kept the Pelicans to just four points in the opening three minutes, but that’s when the Pelicans found the gas pedal. The Splash brothers were outshone by the Pelicans in a half that saw them shoot 64% from the three-point stripe, to just 25% for the Warriors, including three consecutive made triples from Solomon Hill. Klay Thompson helped keep the Dubs afloat with a 20-point solo surge in the second quarter, which kept Golden State within just six at halftime, but New Orleans slammed the door in the third quarter.
A 10-2 run quickly elevated the lead to 72-58, prompting a Steve Kerr timeout, but the damage wouldn’t end there as the Pelicans ultimately came out of the tunnel 28-9. While Jrue Holiday and Rajon Rondo were the heroes of the first half, Anthony Davis and Ian Clark made their presence known in the second.
Clark sparked the run with eight of his own points, including two three-pointers, while Anthony Davis produced highlight after highlight en route to 14 third quarter points, and throughout the contest, he displayed fantastic defense.
The Warriors looked to take advantage of the Pels’ calculated gambles on defense, getting into the paint in 2-on-1 situations, but AD had the awareness and foot speed plus length to thwart most attacks. He even took Looney off the dribble from the three-point line with a sweet behind the back finish.
The Pelicans systematically destroyed the Warriors game plan at the outset as New Orleans knocked down the majority of their open looks from deep. As mentioned, Solomon Hill’s three consecutive makes in the first quarter set the tone, and the hot-shooting later opened up plenty of things in the lane. Perhaps the best example of Golden State’s discombobulation was AD beating a double team by finding a wide open Rajon Rondo cutting to the basket for the easiest two points of the night.
The Warriors trounced the Pelicans in Game 1, and the series promised to be anything but a battle. However, the Pels responded in Game 2, falling just short, and have now officially put the Champs on notice.
As we all know, they will not go down without a fight, and the Warriors will need their best game to thwart off these pesky Pels, who seemingly never know when to quit.
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