Warriors Observations

What we learned as Warriors lose to Pelicans, fall to No. 10 in West

NBC Universal, Inc.

SAN FRANCISCO – Basketball teams always preach the importance of a four-quarter game. The Warriors’ 114-109 loss against the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday night at Chase Center all came down to one quarter, though. 

Golden State in the first, third and fourth quarters outscored New Orleans by 18 points. In the second, the Warriors were outscored by 23 points in their five-point loss that drops them to the Western Conference's No. 10 seed

Steph Curry led all scorers with 33 points, but his seven turnovers proved costly. Zion Williamson totaled 26 points, two fewer than teammate CJ McCollum’s 28, and Williamson swiped a career-high six steals. 

Turnovers and the 3-point line were the Warriors’ ultimate demise. The Warriors gave the ball over the Pelicans 16 times, turning into 25 points for the opposition. The Pelicans held a 21-point advantage from deep. The Warriors went 13 of 34 from long distance, and the Pelicans were 20 of 38, 52.6 percent, after catching a heater in that second quarter.

Here are three takeaways from a Warriors loss that hurts them in the standings.

Disastrous Second Quarter

Any momentum the Warriors held onto from a strong first quarter quickly evaporated once the second quarter began. Chris Paul opened the frame by draining a 14-foot jumper, but the Pelicans flipped the script in no time. Especially from 3-point range. 

The Pelicans came into the day averaging 12.4 made 3-pointers per game. They made only one of their eight 3-point attempts in the first quarter. The second was a team-wide barrage beyond the arc. As a team, the Pelicans watched triples dance through the net 10 times in their 13 tries. 

McCollum made five, Trey Murphy III made three, and both Jose Alvarado and Dyson Daniels made one three apiece. 

What had to be even more frustrating for Steve Kerr and his coaching staff was the Warriors’ affinity for turnovers. After only two first-quarter turnovers and no points off turnovers, the Warriors turned the ball over nine times, resulting in 15 points by the Pelicans. All in all, an ugly mixture led to a 45-22 second-quarter advantage for New Orleans, putting Golden State in a 62-48 halftime deficit.

The Final Eight Minutes

There were times during the third quarter where the Warriors looked like a different team coming out of halftime. The fire slowly started to heat up within Chase Center. But the Pelicans had answers, plenty of them. 

Though the Warriors outscored the Pelicans 27-26 in the third, New Orleans still held a 13-point lead going into the final 12 minutes, 88-75. The final eight minutes of the fourth quarter, however, belonged to the stars. 

A 12-1 Warriors run cut the Pelicans lead to only three points when at the 7:57 mark, Curry, Green and Williamson all stepped back onto the floor. No more messing around from either side. 

The final stretch was a heavyweight fight between two teams battling until the final day in the Western Conference standings. Curry scored 16 of his 33 points over those final eight minutes. The difference was those around Williamson.

Too much McCollum, too much Murphy, too much Pelicans depth as both teams were playing on the second night of a back-to-back.

Draymond’s Day

Following a rest night in Portland, Green found Williamson from the opening tip and made his presence felt in no time. Before he subbed out for the first time, Williamson was a minus-11. Green bullied the powerful star down low whenever he tried to drive on Draymond. 

While Williamson did finish scoring 26 points, the majority didn’t come against Green, and when he did score on him, the former top pick earned every point. 

Green tallied a double-double purely on rebounds and assists, grabbing 12 rebounds and handing out 11 assists. He also scored as many points as you, I and everybody watching Friday’s game. We all attempted the same amount of shots as him too. 

A grand total of zero.

The previous game he played, a Tuesday night win against the Los Angeles Lakers, Green scored 15 points on five 3-pointers. Does he have to be a fellow Splash Brother, cousin or somewhere in  between? No.  Still, Green even being a threat offensively makes all the difference, as the Warriors have seen so many times.

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