With a couple of clutch defensive plays against superstar Anthony Davis, the Golden State Warriors edged the New Orleans Pelicans 113-109 on Tuesday, securing their sixth win in seven games. This marks the end of the five-game road trip that started last Wednesday with a blowout win over the Los Angeles Clippers — their only loss was in Memphis on Saturday.
The Warriors were led by Stephen Curry’s 30 points and Kevin Durant’s 27 points, but the game was won because of a couple of stops, so that’s where we’ll start with our takeaways:
This wasn’t one of those games where the Warriors let their opponents hang around, but you always knew how it was going to end. It wasn’t one of those when they built a huge lead and let their opponents back in. There was legitimate tension in the final minutes, and Golden State had to earn it by shutting down Davis, who finished with 28 points, eight rebounds, three assists, five blocks and two steals.
First, Davis had a chance to cut the Pelicans’ deficit to a single point with less than 40 seconds left, but Durant proved the Warriors do indeed have rim protection, swatting the superstar’s left-handed layup away:
Thanks to an offensive rebound on a missed free throw, New Orleans had a chance to force overtime or even go for the win. It went to Davis in the post against Draymond Green, who picked his pocket, recovered the ball and ended the game. This was not the first or even second time this season that he has sealed a win in this manner, and it won’t hurt his case for Defensive Player of the Year.
“I been clutch my whole life,” Green said, via ESPN’s Ethan Sherwood Strauss.
The Pelicans started the game on fire and went 10-for-19 from 3-point range in the first half, but the Warriors held them without a field goal for the final 4:44 of the fourth quarter.
The Brow is still a problem
Davis didn’t even put up monster numbers by his standards, but sheesh. He was everywhere for the Pelicans, affecting the game with his all-around offensive game and ability to cover ground defensively.
New Orleans has lost eight of its last 10 games and has been awful for a lot of this season, but Golden State must be thrilled that the front office has yet to build a championship-caliber roster around Davis. He has always given the Warriors trouble, and with his teammates making shots and playing with energy for most of this game, he came close to a victory.
Remember when Curry hit that should-have-been-impossible corner 3 with Davis falling on him in the playoffs a couple of years ago? It was hard not to think about that moment when Curry, standing in the exact same spot, hit a leaning, double-clutch 3-pointer with Langston Galloway sort of bumping him. Just like that shot over Davis, there’s a good argument that it should have been a 4-point play.
A quiet triple-double
Green only shot 4-for-12, but his fingerprints were all over this win. It’s not just that stop against Davis — in 36 minutes, he had a 12-point, 10-assist, 12-rebound triple double, plus two blocks and four steals. Given how sloppy and sluggish Golden State was at times, it needed every bit of that production.
Finally, some time to breathe
When the Warriors return home from this road trip on Tuesday night, it will not be a moment too soon. Zaza Pachulia is nursing a wrist injury, and six games in nine days is tough for any team, no matter how much firepower is on the roster. With that context, it’s not a huge surprise that they had to grind out a win at Smoothie King Center, and they’ll be thrilled that their only remaining games this week are Thursday against the New York Knicks and Saturday against the Portland Trail Blazers.