OAKLAND – New Orleans trails 0-2 in its first-round series against No. 1 seed Golden State, but for a second straight game, instead of the Warriors’ starters resting on the bench with victory in hand, they’ve had to sweat out nearly every minute. The Pelicans were deadlocked with the Warriors at 71 through three quarters Monday, before the Warriors gradually took control. It wasn’t until the final two minutes that Golden State appeared assured of a victory, though. New Orleans was within 92-86 and had an open three-pointer that could’ve sliced the deficit in half, but the shot misfired. The Warriors clamped down on the Pelicans' offense in the final minutes to prevent the visitors from getting any closer to an upset. New Orleans will head back to Louisiana on Tuesday morning, practice Wednesday and prepare for Game 3, the first playoff game at the Smoothie King Center since 2011.
IT WAS OVER WHEN…
Warriors guard Klay Thompson drove left with his weaker hand along the wing and got to the rim for a layup and the foul. He sank the free throw, giving the Warriors a 95-86 edge with 1:32 left. Golden State finally was able to breathe a sigh of relief, after New Orleans gave the West’s top-seeded team everything it could handle for three-plus quarters.
PELICANS PLAYER OF THE GAME
If the Pelicans had won, it would’ve been hands-down Eric Gordon’s finest night in a New Orleans uniform, a tenure that dates back to the 2011-12 season. Gordon was superb from three-point range, going 5 of 10 en route to a 23-point performance. Anthony Davis also put up nice numbers, posting a team-best 26 points and grabbing 10 rebounds, but he was just 9-for-22 from the field.
PELICANS UNSUNG CONTRIBUTOR
For a second straight game, the Pelicans were without one of their point guards due to injury for either all of part of the contest. Fortunately, Norris Cole has twice delivered scoring and veteran know-how to a team with several players making their postseason debut. Cole blitzed the Warriors for nine points in the second quarter and totaled 11 in the game. While Tyreke Evans (left knee bruise) was able to get on the floor and netted 16 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists, PG Jrue Holiday (leg) was forced to miss Game 2 due to injury.
QUOTES TO NOTE
“It was close and came down to the last four minutes. Our offense made mistakes. We’ve just got to move on and take care of things back home.” – Eric Gordon on the game being decided in the fourth quarter
“The ball didn’t move. We just tried to do one pass and go. (Golden State) did a good job of loading (its defense toward the ball). I think when we moved the ball and got a good shot, we did a lot better.” – Tyreke Evans on the final minutes
“We gave ourselves a chance, and we knew we were right there and we just didn't do a good job of executing towards the end of the game.” – Anthony Davis on the Pelicans’ late-game mistakes leading to the Warriors taking control late
“AD is going hard for us out there, and we have to be there to support him when he has an off night like this. Tonight was a tough shooting night all around, but I think the more games he plays in the postseason, and the more games we play as a group in the postseason, the better we'll be.” – Norris Cole on Anthony Davis’ 9-for-22 shooting game and the Pelicans gaining valuable experience in these playoffs
“I think we did a better job of talking… We took them out of their three-point shots tonight (Warriors were 9-for-30). We just have to figure out a way to close out games.” – Tyreke Evans on the Pelicans’ defensive performance
BY THE NUMBERS
101.5: Golden State points per game in the two games at home to start the series. Points often drop in the postseason for everyone, but New Orleans was OK with holding Golden State far under its regular season average (110.0, highest in the NBA).
37.8: New Orleans shooting percentage from the field, including going just 24-for-62 from two-point range. Golden State blocked seven of those 38 misses.
28-13: Pelicans home record during the regular season, which was 11 games better than their road mark (17-24). Among various other categories in which it has shown excellence, Golden State led the NBA in road record (28-13).
#TAKEFLIGHT QUESTION OF THE NIGHT
What did you learn about the Pelicans after the first two games vs. the Warriors?
From @ahscherer: that this team has grown & matured sooner than I expected. Also, I learned that this team wants to win, now.
From @SaintPelican225: The future is bright.
From @knicosia377: that they fight, but they're a few pieces away, and are going to be really really good for a long time.
From @airadam13: That with a little more composure and consistency, they could really do something.
From @Lark_NessMonsta: the gap between these 2 teams is closer than a lot think.
From @kirkdirk: We can beat any team when we're doing what we can to facilitate Davis. Play small guys around him to set up