After a stunning 119-100 victory in Game 3, the New Orleans Pelicans were unable to carry any of that precious momentum into Sunday’s outing. The Golden State Warriors, who got off to a blazingly fast start, dictated the action throughout Game 4, crushing New Orleans by a final score of 118-92. Golden State now leads the series 3-1, needing just one more victory to eliminate the Pelicans from the postseason.
At the outset, the Pelicans lacked the necessary focus, force feeding Anthony Davis and having trouble finding any rhythm. The offense really struggled to find the seams within the Warriors defense, but when they did, numerous attempts from inside the paint simply failed to drop. Meanwhile, on the other end, Kevin Durant began with a bang and the rest of the Warriors systematically followed in the dissection of the Pelicans defense, jumping out to a 37-22 first quarter lead.
New Orleans made a valiant comeback in the second frame, closing the gap to as close as 55-51. On the strength of 19 free throw attempts in the first half — a surprising occurrence considering they had tallied 32 total in the first three games, the Pelicans managed to enter halftime in contention after seemingly taking the Warriors best shot.
The third quarter began with the Warriors jumping out to a 7-0 run, and in the blink of an eye, they regained that comfortable double digit lead once again. This time, though, they wouldn’t relinquish the margin. A 33-19 third quarter was followed by a 24-19 fourth. New Orleans completely failed to mount any challenge.
Excluding late game garbage time (so let’s leave out the final four minutes), the Pelicans bench totaled a mere seven points. After viewing the second-unit’s success in Game 3, this was a detrimental fall off. Pair that with an MVP-level performance from Kevin Durant (38 points, nine rebounds, five assists) and the onslaught Golden State brought from the tip, you find yourself sulking in a 26-point loss.
Warriors Head Coach Steve Kerr made it clear that the edge New Orleans had in Game 3 was them coming out as the aggressors — something the Warriors were primed to make sure didn’t happen again.
“It’s not about the lineup,” said Kerr. “It’s about how hard guys play and how focused they are. The effort at both ends tonight was night and day from Game 3. I thought I guys were just dialed in.”
We all know what lies ahead: One game on the road with the series on the line, a chance to keep the season alive and bring the troops back home. If that chance is to become a reality, Anthony Davis has to become a wrecking ball. He’s been phenomenal at times (as he always is), but just (two) made fields in the second half is inexcusable. Davis will have to command a different energy for the Pelicans to find success in Game 5 at Oracle, but so will others. Jrue Holiday recognizes the mountain ahead and knows New Orleans will need an all-out effort to bring the series back home.
“It’s another game that we get to play.” said Holiday. “Still in it. We’re a team that fights through everything. We’ve gone through so much this year. We’ve never given up and we don’t plan on it now. Close out games games are the hardest ones, and to be able to do it at their place is going to be a challenge. We’re going to go out there and give it everything we have, play to the finish and thats just how we’re going to have to be.”
New Orleans is on the brink of elimination. One more loss to Golden State and the players will be allowed to make summer vacation plans. Of course, another disappointing loss should not take away any shine from what the Pelicans were able to accomplish — to the surprise of nearly everyone — in the 2017-18 season. At the same time, though, wouldn’t it be incredible if New Orleans could manage to extend the series just one more game and set up a potentially explosive atmosphere inside the Smoothie King Center one last time?