Pelicans.com postgame: Warriors 97, Pelicans 87
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Pelicans.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
For the second straight game Saturday, the New Orleans Pelicans benefited from an individual performance that ranked as one of the best by any of the team’s players this season. Unfortunately for the Pelicans, who are facing the double whammy of being short-handed due to injuries and playing against some of the Western Conference’s elite teams, it still wasn’t quite enough to crack the win column.
Three days after shooting guard Eric Gordon poured in a season-high 35 points against Houston, power forward Anthony Davis authored one of the finest games of his brief two-year NBA career, piling up 31 points and 17 rebounds. Both statistics were one shy of his highs as a pro (32 points, 18 rebounds).
Davis came out determined from the opening jump ball, scoring 15 points in the first quarter and 22 by halftime. New Orleans (15-24) led 29-24 through the first period and was up by as many as 11 points amid Davis’ dominant all-around game. Still, Golden State (26-16) pulled in front in the third quarter on the strength of a 26-18 edge. Over the final 24 minutes, the Warriors limited the Pelicans to just 33 points, including 15 in the fourth quarter. Stephen Curry paced the visitors with 28 points, even though he was just 2-for-9 from three-point range.
Davis finished 11-for-17 from the field, but the balance of the Pelicans’ rotation combined to shoot 21-for-66 (32 percent). Playing without leading scorer Ryan Anderson, fourth-leading scorer Jrue Holiday and No. 6 point producer Jason Smith, New Orleans didn’t generate enough offense to beat one of the NBA’s most potent attacks.
“We have a tough time scoring with different lineups out there,” Pelicans Coach Monty Williams said. “There was a time when (the Warriors) weren’t guarding a couple of our guys, so it’s like playing 3-on-5. We just didn’t capitalize. When a guy’s not guarding you, you’ve got to flash (to an opening on the court) and be able to do something with (the scoring opportunity). Those are the droughts that bug you a little bit. Then (the Warriors) would score, so we’d be going against a set defense.”
Davis mixed in mid-range jumpers with athletic layups and free throws en route to scoring 21 of the Pelicans’ 54 first-half points. Following up on his prolific first half, he had a double-double in the second half alone, posting 10 points and 10 rebounds. After Golden State threatened to put the game away in the fourth quarter, Davis scored twice on back-to-the-basket post-up moves, a promising addition to his offensive arsenal. The Pelicans shot just 13-for-39 as a team in the second half, however. New Orleans has not won since Anderson was injured Jan. 3 in a frightening fourth-quarter collision with Boston’s Gerald Wallace.
“AD had 31 and 17, so you think you’d have a good chance to win,” Williams said. “But we just had so many guys who had a tough time putting the ball in the hole tonight.”
The Pelicans announced earlier Saturday that Smith (right knee) is out indefinitely, adding to the team’s terrible luck with injuries this month. New Orleans did get Tyreke Evans (14 points in 31 minutes) back on the floor Saturday after a left ankle injury, but only had 11 players in uniform.
“It’s tough, especially when we had started meshing together (prior to the spate of injuries),” Davis said. “It’s tough to lose guys. It’s adversity. We have to learn how to deal with it. We know guys may not come back (this season from injury). We have to have guys step up and be ready to play. We’ve just got to execute better and figure it out.”