EditorsNote: adds quotes from Durant, Gentry, Kerr and Holiday
Kevin Durant scored 38 points as the Golden State Warriors increased their series lead to 3-1 with a 118-92 victory over the home-standing New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday afternoon in the Smoothie King Center.
The defending NBA champion Warriors can close out the Western Conference semifinal series when they host Game 5 on Tuesday night.
Stephen Curry added 23 points, Klay Thompson scored 13 and Quinn Cook came off the bench to score 12 for Golden State.
Durant hit 15 of 27 shots from the floor.
“I’m at my best when I’m free and having fun and forceful, I think that was the thing, to just try and play with force,” Durant said. “It don’t matter if I miss shots or not. Just keep shooting. Keep being aggressive.”
Anthony Davis had 26 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Pelicans, who were looking to even the series after a 119-100 victory Friday. E’Twaun Moore scored 20 and Jrue Holiday had 19.
Golden State shot 48.4 percent from the floor, including 33 percent on 3-pointers, and New Orleans shot 36.4 percent, including just 15 percent on 3-pointers.
The Warriors, who led by as many as 18 points in the first quarter before settling for a seven-point halftime lead, quickly rebuilt the margin to start the third quarter. Curry’s 3-pointer completed an opening 10-2 run that gave Golden State a 71-56 lead barely two minutes into the second half.
The closest the Pelicans could get was 11 points before the Warriors built the lead to 23 and took a 94-73 advantage after three quarters.
“I thought they were really good defensively,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. “I thought KD (Durant) was really locked in defensively. They can run you off the 3-point line because they’re so long that they can give you a step, but they can also challenge shots. I thought they did a real good job with that. Then I thought we pressed a bit when we got behind.”
The Warriors began the game with more intensity than they showed in Game 3, and it was evident on both ends of the court.
Golden State shot 60 percent and New Orleans shot 29 percent in the first quarter, which ended with the Warriors holding a 37-22 lead.
“KD and Steph were more strategic,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “They already know: Stars have to be stars in the playoffs. Steph and KD don’t need to be told that, but my job as a coach is to try to help them strategically. So I talked to both of them about how I thought they could attack and create better shots, and we just did a much better job executing offensively tonight as a group.”
The Pelicans chipped away in the second quarter, thanks in large part to their ability to make 3-pointers and get to the foul line.
The Warriors made one more field goal than the Pelicans in the second quarter (11-10), but New Orleans made three 3-pointers and nine free throws and Golden State missed all six of its 3-point attempts and sank just two free throws.
The Pelicans got as close as four points before the Warriors took a 61-54 halftime lead behind Durant’s 20 points.
The Warriors added Andre Iguodala to the starting lineup, and he opened a game on the floor with Durant, Curry, Thompson and Draymond Green for the first time. Iguodala contributed six points, seven rebounds, six assists and three steals.
“We’ve known all along this is a small series, and so you know we played it a little differently than last game with Steph just coming back (from a knee injury) for the second game and trying to buy us some minutes here and there, and obviously we got our tails kicked,” Kerr said. “So anytime we’ve been in any danger over the years, we’ve sort of gone to this lineup.”
Looking ahead to Game 5, Holiday said of the Pelicans, “We’re a team that fights through everything. We’ve gone through so much this year. We’ve never given up and we don’t plan on it now.”
—Field Level Media