Warriors win series 4-1
OAKLAND – Two-time league MVP Stephen Curry had the ball knocked away from him Tuesday by a New Orleans defender Curry didn’t see coming, but the ball bounced around and ended up in the hands of one-time NBA MVP Kevin Durant, who fired a deep three-pointer. Swish. It was the kind of play that summed up Golden State’s second-round series victory over New Orleans: Even when the Pelicans did something right, it wasn’t always enough against the ultra-talented Warriors, one of this era’s most powerful teams.
Sixth-seeded New Orleans played No. 2 Golden State competitively for a half in Game 5, trailing by just three points at intermission, but the Warriors proved too much in the third quarter, clamping down on the Pelicans and taking advantage of an extended scoring drought. The hosts rapidly turned that three-point halftime edge into a 26-point margin. New Orleans made the Oracle Arena crowd a bit nervous in the final minutes of the fourth quarter, but a rally came too late.
Golden State advanced to the Western Conference finals for a fourth consecutive year, setting up a matchup with top-seeded Houston. New Orleans wrapped up its best season in a decade, reaching the second round for the first time since ’08.
IT WAS OVER WHEN…
Draymond Green sank a tough turnaround jumper to beat then shot clock, then Kevon Looney tipped in a miss to put Golden State in front by 11 with about 1:20 remaining. New Orleans put together a huge surge to cut its deficit to seven at one stage, but couldn’t come up with vital stops with under two minutes left.
PELICANS PLAYER OF THE GAME
Jrue Holiday kept coming at the Warriors in the fourth quarter, even when things began to look very bleak for the visitors. Holiday’s triple-double consisted of 27 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists. With the Warriors devoting considerable attention and physicality to trying to stop Anthony Davis (34 points, 19 rebounds, 13/26 shooting), Holiday sliced through the middle of Golden State’s defense for layups and close-range shots. He finished 11/21 from the field.
PELICANS UNSUNG CONTRIBUTOR
Ian Clark logged 30 minutes off the bench and scored nine points. Aside from E’Twaun Moore, he was the only Pelicans player to finish in the positive side of the plus-minus ledger, at 5.
QUOTES TO NOTE
“We take a lot of positive things from this season. Of course, one of our main guys went out (DeMarcus Cousins), and everybody doubted us, everybody counted us out. We were able to keep fighting, keep pushing as a unit, and come this far.” – Davis on 2017-18 and the Pelicans winning a playoff series for the first time since ‘08
“We’ve been a team that’s suffered a lot of adversity. We always seemed to play ourselves out of it. We had to reinvent ourselves twice.” – Alvin Gentry on 2017-18, adjusting the style of play to incorporate Cousins, then doing it again when Cousins had a season-ending injury
“We feel like we’re headed in the right direction as a franchise. We have one of the three or four best players in the league, which is great to build on. Jrue Holiday had a great year, (Rajon) Rondo was a terrific addition to our team, from the standpoint of leadership and what he’s done (on the floor).” – Gentry summing up the season
"His groin was not in great shape and we knew that right from the start. His movement wasn't as it had been, and I just didn't think that it was worth risking something that could be serious. He wanted to play, and he tried to play right from the start, and that's why I love the guy, he is as big a competitor as I've been around, and he would do anything to help our team. I just thought that it didn't make sense to put him out there, because his movement wasn't great, and I didn't want to see him hurt." - Gentry on why Rajon Rondo only played 21 minutes
BY THE NUMBERS
24: Golden State points off 14 New Orleans turnovers, an area that made it very difficult for the Pelicans to have a chance to win.
31/64: Pelicans two-point shooting, while the Warriors were 41/73. New Orleans had been better than Golden State closer to the basket in the series, but not in Game 5.
10/24: New Orleans three-point shooting. Golden State struggled, especially by its league-leading standards, going 7/27.