Warriors (66-14), Pelicans (33-47)
OAKLAND – A short-handed New Orleans squad stayed close for one half of basketball Saturday, but in a familiar scenario for visiting teams to Oracle Arena, Golden State surged after intermission, en route to a one-sided victory. The Pelicans were playing without All-Star bigs Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins, as well as shooting guard E’Twaun Moore, making it a monumental task to try to keep up with the high-powered Warriors, the NBA’s best team.
New Orleans took a three-point lead in the second quarter and was down just 54-46 at halftime, but Golden State outscored its guests 39-22 in the third period. The Warriors topped the century mark quickly to open the fourth, eventually going up by as many as 34 points. In his much-anticipated return from injury, Kevin Durant delivered 16 points, 10 rebounds and six assists, while Stephen Curry (left knee contusion) did not play.
The Pelicans will have two days off from game action before beginning a back-to-back Tuesday at the Lakers, followed by Wednesday’s regular season finale at Portland.
IT WAS OVER WHEN…
Golden State’s JaVale McGee rose for an and-one layup with 2:42 left in the third quarter, continuing a Warriors flurry that broke open the game and created an 82-60 lead. The Pelicans only trailed by eight at halftime, but the hosts took over in the third period. New Orleans paid for a stretch early in the stanza when it had difficulty putting points on the board.
PELICANS PLAYER OF THE GAME
New Orleans had a thin frontcourt Saturday while playing without Davis and Cousins, but Alexis Ajinca was productive in a starting assignment. The native of France registered 17 points and six rebounds in his 29 minutes of play, trying his best to keep the Pelicans competitive in the paint and on the backboards against a bigger and more versatile Warriors rotation.
PELICANS UNSUNG CONTRIBUTOR
Reserve rookie guard Quinn Cook was a steadying presence and generated the best offensive night of his brief NBA career, tallying 22 points on 10/13 shooting (his previous best was 10 points for Dallas in a game against the Lakers). The Duke leaked out on a couple first-half fast breaks and connected on early jumpers for an 11-point first half, then added 11 more during a scattered fourth period.
QUOTES TO NOTE
“The start of the third quarter is where they got separation, because we had a couple tough possessions, and they move the basketball and pass it so well. All of a sudden you look up and you’re down 17.” – Alvin Gentry on the Warriors rapidly seizing control
“I thought he played solid. I thought he was really good. He did a good job running the team and with shot selection, and decision-making.” – Gentry on Cook’s performance
“We made those guys work. We were talking on defense, putting pressure on them when they scored – we weren’t slow getting the ball up and kept the tempo up. They got hot in the third quarter, like they usually do, and got a big lead.” – Cook on the first half, which briefly included the Pelicans leading on the scoreboard
BY THE NUMBERS
5/20: New Orleans three-point shooting. The Pelicans probably needed to have an exceptional night in this category to have a chance to stay competitive, but didn’t shoot well. The starters were 1/10.
53-34: Golden State rebounding advantage, led by Durant’s 10. The Warriors tracked down 14 offensive boards.
58: Bench points for the Pelicans, headed by Cook’s 22 and Jordan Crawford’s 21. In his second straight night of game action, rookie Cheick Diallo posted seven points and nine rebounds.