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Too much Stephen Curry, New Orleans Pelicans fall to Golden State Warriors in 147-140 barn burner

A lot of positives for New Orleans, but once again, they failed to finish off the Warriors.

New Orleans Pelicans v Golden State Warriors Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Playing well against the defending NBA Champions is nothing new for the New Orleans Pelicans and tonight’s 147-140 loss was yet another shining example that deserves to be added to the list of exciting but ultimately disappointing outcomes.

At one point in the first half, the Pelicans were up 17 points on the Golden State Warriors; in the middle of the third quarter, they were up 16 points. New Orleans had four players finish with 23 points or more: Anthony Davis (30), Nikola Mirotic (29), Jrue Holiday (25) and Julius Randle (23). As a team the Pelicans scored 140 points (tying their second highest mark of the season), made 19 three-pointers (tying a season-high), and had 37 assists (a new season-high).

“I thought we played well, but when you play the champs, there’s going to be ups and downs,” said Alvin Gentry to postgame media. “There’s going to be eb and flow in the game. We hit a spot where we had a couple of turnovers. And they made really tough shots. The shots that Steph made were not wide open shots, they were challenged shots. And he made them. Then you have to give something so we forced Draymond {Green} to be a shooter and he made them. And that’s why they’re a championship team.”

Stephen Curry finished with 41 points and connected on nine of 17 three-pointers, but it was specifically his stretch of torrid shooting in the third quarter that changed the entire complexion of the game.

After the Pelicans held leads of various sizes throughout the contest, Curry began throwing haymakers while his Warriors were staring at a 96-80 deficit with 6:02 to go in the third quarter. Steph started things off with a layup and then proceeded to knock down six straight three-pointers before the frame ended.

New Orleans Pelicans v Golden State Warriors Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

There was literally nothing the Pelicans could do.

Curry was singlehandedly responsible for the Warriors entering the fourth with a one-point lead. While it was ridiculously odd to see Ian Clark get run and be asked to guard the best shooter on the planet (maybe Gentry figured Clark knows Steph’s tendencies better than anyone on the Pels roster?), no one would have stopped him. Curry was beating double teams, moving and dribbling around the perimeter until finding the necessary smallest of creases of airspace in the New Orleans defense.

However, the Pelicans deserve credit for not giving up.

To start the fourth quarter, New Orleans attacked the paint. An Anthony Davis And-1 was followed by a Jrue Holiday lay-in. The Pelicans were able to keep their heads above water despite taking the Warriors best shot, but unfortunately, the offense soon thereafter picked a bad time to go cold.

After Nikola Mirotic dropped home a 22-footer at the 8:34 mark, New Orleans managed to score only six points in over the next six minutes. That’s not going to slice it. Making just two of eleven shot attempts in a close game down the stretch is a sure fire way to throw away a potential win against the best of the best.

To make matters worse, Golden State didn’t exactly run away with the game either. But the Warriors grabbing five offensive rebounds (Kevon Looney had four) during this period of the game resulted in nine second chance points — thus sealing the Pelicans fateful defeat.

“We did a great job of managing our turnovers,” said Gentry. “It’s just that you have to make the little plays down the stretch against a team like this and we weren’t able to do that.”

That was really the only blemish on the night for New Orleans. To beat the champs, who were playing their best, a team needs to be perfect. The Warriors gave themselves more chances to score when the smooth sailing stopped and they capitalized. The Pelicans couldn’t hold Golden State to one shot, and furthermore, couldn’t manufacture multiple looks on their final offensive possessions when the game was still in doubt.

Honestly, I hope no one loses sleep over this loss. While we would have preferred New Orleans not get destroyed in transition (43-20 GSW advantage in fastbreak points), the Pelicans do a better job on the glass and the offense prioritize attacking the paint throughout the game, the Pelicans did knock down over 50% of their three-point looks and they got to the free throw line more than the Warriors. I mean, there was a record set in which both teams contributed their fair share.

Two nights ago, the Pelicans emerged victorious after Harris, Gallinari and Harrell were really, really good for the Clippers. Tonight, Curry, Durant and Thompson combined for 90 points and 18 triples, but it took Draymond Green, who had scored a total of 12 points in his four previous games combined, to pull 17 points and four threes out of his keister to give the three-time champions in the last four years the victory in the win column.

“It’s a good gauge to see where you have to get to be a championship team.” — Alvin Gentry on facing the Warriors when they’re playing their best ball of the season.

Now if only the Pelicans can replicate the efforts witnessed in the last two games for the rest of the season...