Curry heats up, helps Warriors take down Pelicans
OAKLAND, Calif. — After running away from the Chicago Bulls in a track meet, the Golden State Warriors got into more of a wrestling match with the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday night.
Turns out the defending champs are pretty good at that sport, too.
The Golden State defense harassed Pelicans big man DeMarcus Cousins into foul trouble on a subpar night and Stephen Curry rebounded from an 0-of-10 start to score 14 of his team-high 27 points in the third quarter, rallying the Warriors to a 110-95 victory.
Cousins, who began the night as the NBA’s fifth-leading scorer and fourth-leading rebounder, was held to 15 points and seven rebounds, effectively dooming the Pelicans’ chances of winning a fourth straight game for the first time since last December.
“We had a couple of breakdowns and they made us pay,” noted Pelicans standout Anthony Davis, the game’s leading scorer with 30 points.
Specifically, he said, it was the 17 turnovers that the Warriors turned into 20 points. Cousins committed a game-high six of the turnovers.
“You can’t give a team like that easy points,” Davis continued.
Warriors center Zaza Pachulia played Cousins relatively evenly with 10 points and six rebounds, setting the stage for Curry and Klay Thompson (24 points) to be the difference-makers on the offensive end in Golden State’s sixth straight home win.
“I thought Zaza was tremendous tonight,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr gushed. “He was a really big part of the game. DeMarcus Cousins is such a handful. A talented player and so strong. Zaza can match that strength. I thought his defense on DeMarcus was one of the keys to the game.”
Playing less than 24 hours after producing one of the most lopsided wins in franchise history, a 49-pointer against the Chicago Bulls, the Warriors found themselves down double digits in the first quarter and tied 53-53 at halftime before pulling away for their second straight win.
With injured Kevin Durant watching for the second consecutive night, Curry bombed in two jumpers and added a layup to help the Warriors build a 67-63 lead in the fifth minute of the third quarter.
Golden State never trailed again.
Curry added two 3-pointers, two of the three he made in the game, later in the quarter.
The 5-for-9 period followed a 1-for-11 first half in which his only field goal came on his final attempt.
“Steph is the safest bet in the world to keep shooting,” Thompson noted. “He’s one of the best shooters on the planet. I knew eventually they would go in. I was never worried, and I’m sure he wasn’t, either.”
The Pelicans, coming off a 115-91 victory at Phoenix on Friday night, hung within 89-83 on a jumper by Davis with 9:31 to go. But the Warriors countered with a 10-0 burst that included a 3-pointer by Andre Iguodala and a three-point play by Shaun Livingston, opening a 16-point lead before New Orleans scored again with 6:43 left.
Iguodala (14) and Livingston (seven) combined for 21 points as the Golden State bench outscored its New Orleans counterparts 34-10.
“Our second unit tries to provide a spark,” Iguodala said. “Jrue Holiday had a big first quarter, and E’Twaun Moore made some shots. We had to get them off the (3-point) line. Once we made them miss, we got a spark.”
Curry’s 27 points came on only 9-of-25 shooting, including 3 of 13 on 3-pointers.
Thompson had four 3-pointers to account for half of his 24 points for the Warriors, who beat the Pelicans for the ninth straight time overall and 10th consecutive time at home.
The Pelicans’ Davis was the game’s leading rebounder with 15 as well as leading scorer. He made 12 of his 22 shots.
Holiday, who recorded as many points as the Warriors (17) in the first quarter, had 24 points for the Pelicans, whose 17 turnovers were seven more than Golden State’s season-low 10.
“The difference in the game was we weren’t disciplined,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry observed. “You look at the stat sheet at half and Steph is 1-for-11. He is not going to go 1-for-11 in the second half. I thought we should have had a lead.”
The Warriors trailed by as many as 14 points in the first quarter and took their only lead of the first half on a Thompson 3-pointer with 27.6 seconds left in the second quarter.
Curry’s first basket of the game, after an 0-of-10 start, had come on the Warriors’ previous possession.
NOTES: The Warriors have beaten the Pelicans in 19 of their last 20 regular-season meetings. ... Pelicans C DeMarcus Cousins, who battled foul trouble most of the game, was nailed with his sixth technical foul of the season in the fourth quarter. Cousins moved into a tie for the NBA lead with Warriors PF Draymond Green. ... Pelicans SG Ian Clark received his 2017 NBA championship ring in a pregame ceremony on the court. Clark entered the game for the first time in the fourth quarter and played a scoreless eight minutes. ... Warriors coach Steve Kerr said of Clark, the club’s sixth-leading scorer last season: “He’s got a lot of fans in our locker room.” ... Kerr listed SF Kevin Durant (sprained right ankle) as “day-to-day,” meaning his status for Monday’s home game against Sacramento has yet to be determined.