With 21 seconds to go, Stephen Curry’s 3-point lead potential resonated in front of the rim and the Warriors fell to the New Orleans Pelicans 108-103 on Tuesday night at the Smoothie King Center.
In a round-trip game with 14 changes of advantage, Golden State (33-33) had the chance to steal a victory in New Orleans, but was defeated by tired legs and a team of Pelicans desperate to reach the playoffs.
“I thought we were tired,” said coach Steve Kerr. “I am very proud of the guys, they fought all the way and we were clearly tired on Wednesday.”
With the score tied at 92 at the start of the fourth period, Draymond Green blocked Zion Williamson’s tray, made a 3-point basket and found Kent Bazemore in the corner to give Golden State a three-point lead with 2:30 remaining in the second. night of a consecutive set in the last game of the Warriors on the road of the season.
But New Orleans responded when Lonzo Ball (33 points out of 11 to 23 shots) made his seventh 3 points in the game and a throwback to give the Pelicans a 102-100 lead with 25.3 seconds remaining.
After Kerr’s timeout, Curry took Green’s ball in a handoff and launched a 3-point ball that hit the front of the hoop. Reserve guard Mychal Mulder failed to secure the offensive rebound, putting the final mark on defeat. Altogether, the Warriors ran out of gas and the Pelicans ended the game with a run of 27-10.
Curry had 37 points from 13 of 31 shots (8 out of 20 in the 3-point range) and Andrew Wiggins had 26 points out of 10 out of 21 shots (5 out of 10 in the 3-point range), but they didn’t have much help in scoring as no other Warriors player has broken the double digits.
For the Pelicans (30-26), Williamson finished with 23 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists. The Warriors implemented the same game plan they used for Monday night’s victory, choosing to protect Williamson with a defender and force New Orleans pitchers to win the game. After shooting only 20% on 3 points on Monday, on Tuesday they hit 12 out of 30 (40%) in the 3 point range. The victory keeps them at an attack distance from Spurs, 10th place, which is two games ahead of the final play-in tournament slot.
The defeat reduced the Warriors to 0.500, but they are still in eighth position in the play-in tournament before moving on to the six-game home that ends on Thursday against the Oklahoma City Thunder at the Chase Center.
As Golden State evaluates this final trip, it will point out some good and some bad things. The good thing is that the Warriors are still undoubtedly playing the best basketball of the season, winning with a small ball (when they are not tired).
The bad thing is that they lost two valuable games on a trip where their opponents had a combined record of 96-166. If they had gone 3-1 or even 4-0, they would have a cushion in front of the Grizzlies and could be playing the next games with a chance to host the game seven-eight. But it should come as no surprise that a team that has hovered around 0.500 the entire season is just heading for the final stretch.
“So 2-2 is OK, it’s not what we expected,” said Curry. “But I like the vibrancy we have now of how we’re trying to play and the intensity that we try to have every night, knowing that we’re getting closer and closer to the games that really matter.”
Updated playoff image:
- Phoenix Suns (47-18)
- Utah Jazz (47-18)
- Denver Nuggets (43-22)
- LA Clippers (43-22)
- Dallas Mavericks (37-28)
- Los Angeles Lakers (37-28)
- Portland Trail Blazers (36-29)
- Golden State Warriors (33-33)
- Memphis Grizzlies (32-32)
- San Antonio Spurs (31-33)
Looking from the outside in
- New Orleans Pelicans (30-36)