What we learned as Warriors storm back to secure win vs. Pels

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SAN FRANCISCO – For the second consecutive home game, the Warriors faced an opponent directly below them in the white-hot Western Conference sprint to the regular-season finish.

This game, however, would not be handed to the visitors.

The Warriors overcame a mostly sleepy first half with a blistering second half and that was enough Tuesday night to deliver a steamy 120-109 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans before a sellout crowd (18,064) at Chase Center.

The win moves Golden State (40-37) from seventh place to sixth ahead of the Clippers, who played at Memphis on Wednesday. The Pelicans (38-38) remain in eighth place.

Five Warriors scored in double figures, led by Stephen Curry with 39 points. Jordan Poole dropped in 21 off the bench.

Here are three observations from in which the Warriors dominated the second half, outscoring the Pelicans 74-46.

Third-quarter inferno

After a shockingly ordinary first half, under the circumstances, the Warriors came out for the second half as if the halftime snack was caffeine injected straight into their veins.

They suddenly were hyperactive on defense, forcing six turnovers and exploiting them for eight points. They battled the bigger Pelicans even on the glass, banged with them in the paint. The Warriors more than quadrupled (9-2) their second-chance points total of the entire first half.

Golden State, which scored 46 points in the first half, rang up 39 in the quarter, shooting 48 percent from the field, including 44.4 percent beyond the arc.

Curry scored 13 points in the quarter, Klay Thompson added eight, as did Donte DiVincenzo, whose instant energy to open the quarter seemed to be contagious.

This was Golden State, which trailed by as much as 20 in the first half, posted its 12th home victory in which it erased a double-digit deficit.

Draymond’s tactical flareup

The second quarter was all kinds of messy, and Draymond Green was in the middle of all of it.

There was the emphatic bump on a driving Brandon Ingram with 3:44 remaining in the half, which initially resulted in a common foul but upon review was upgraded to a flagrant-1.

There was the post-bump barking between Green and Ingram, resulting in double technical fouls. Draymond’s technical foul total is up to 17. If this one is not rescinded, No. 18 would force another one-game suspension.

Moments after order was restored, or not, Draymond was whistled for charging after slamming into Herb Jones on a very physical drive to the basket. Green and Jones had words, with Ingram also sounding off.

Sensing Draymond was on the verge of an emotional explosion, coach Steve Kerr subbed him out hoping he’d cool off with a couple minutes on the bench.

Golden State lost the quarter 27-21 and was outscored 13-5 over the rambunctious final 3:44.

Don’t believe for a moment, though, that the intensity didn’t carry over into the second half.

Lineup change: Kuminga in, Looney out

It was no surprise that Kerr inserted 6-foot-7 Jonathan Kuminga into the starting lineup. Who better to defend the 6-foot-8 Ingram?

The surprise was that Kuminga’s start displaced not 6-foot-4 guard Donte DiVincenzo but 6-foot-9 center Kevon Looney. The Pelicans had four starters, including Ingram, who stand as tall or taller than all five Golden State starters.

The lineup change did not go particularly well. Making only his second start in the last three weeks, Kuminga picked up two quick fouls and was pulled in place of Looney with 6:17 left in the first quarter.

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In addition to Ingram scoring 16 points before intermission, the Pelicans posted decisive first-half advantages in rebounds (25-17), second-chance points (9-2) fast-break points (20-2, including 8-of-8 from the field).

After a relatively quiet first half, with five points and two rebounds, Kuminga recovered after halftime to finish with 13 points (5-of-5 from the field, including his only 3-ball) and four rebounds.

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