Jaxson Hayes takes a shot in the paint at Golden State

Panzura postgame wrap: Warriors 125, Pelicans 122

Warriors (38-33), Pelicans (31-40)
by Jim Eichenhofer
@Jim_Eichenhofer

New Orleans was down by 18 points at halftime and still trailed by double digits midway through the fourth quarter Friday, but in a season where seemingly no lead has been safe, the Pelicans fought their way back and had a chance to prevail. Ultimately, however, Golden State held on for a narrow victory.

Steph Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson were not in uniform for Golden State, but the likes of Jordan Poole, Mychal Mulder and Kent Bazemore did their best impression of the Warriors’ potent and dynastic trio, pushing the hosts to a 75-57 halftime edge.

New Orleans, which went 30-42 last season, will conclude its 2020-21 campaign Sunday with a home game against the Lakers. Golden State will host Memphis on Sunday afternoon in a matchup that will decide the Western Conference’s eighth and ninth seeds in the play-in tournament.

IT WAS OVER WHEN…

Trailing by a point, Nickeil Alexander-Walker’s three-point attempt from straightaway came up short in the final seconds, allowing Golden State to collect a key defensive rebound. The Warriors ran more time off the clock, not being fouled by the Pelicans until two-tenths of a second remained. Poole sank free throws to account for the final score.

Alexander-Walker gave New Orleans momentary 122-121 lead, but Poole drove for a layup to make it 123-122 in favor of the hosts with 21 seconds left, setting up New Orleans’ final possession.

PELICANS PLAYER OF THE GAME

Naji Marshall and Wenyen Gabriel both established career highs in scoring, with Marshall also doing so in rebounding. Both played some inspired basketball in the second half, despite the fact that New Orleans is out of play-in contention. Marshall was fired up during the Pelicans’ final-period comeback, being in on several key plays en route to posting 20 points and 13 rebounds. Gabriel’s 14-point night was highlighted by 3/7 three-point shooting.

BY THE NUMBERS

20: Golden State first-half assists. The Warriors used a precision attack to pick apart the Pelicans’ defense, often relying on backdoor cuts for layups.

9: New Orleans turnovers. The Pelicans have somehow reduced their mistakes lately despite relying on a group of players with little experience on the court together.

11/27: Pelicans three-point shooting, a solid night at 41 percent. The Warriors were better though, at 17/39 (44 percent).

PELICANS KEYS TO VICTORY PRESENTED BY FANDUEL

OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS

Both teams’ collections of lesser-used players did nice work in capitalizing on extended minutes. Poole and Mychal Mulder powered Golden State in the first half, while youngsters steered New Orleans’ second-half comeback.

FINISH WITH A FLOURISH

Among the team’s non-Zion first-round picks from the 2019 draft, Alexander-Walker started slowly but picked up momentum as the game progressed. Alexander-Walker was averaging 18.5 points in his 11 previous starts this season, then added to that by dropping in 30, the third time this season he’s had 30-plus points. Hayes went for 19 points and eight rebounds in just 24 minutes.

DIDI DEFENSE

Rookie Didi Louzada’s defense stood out particularly in the first half, but he also connected on a couple three-pointers, the first treys of his two-game NBA career.

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