With the Golden State Warriors having lost the night before at Oklahoma City in a wild shootout, getting out and running against them might have been the way to go.
However, tired or not, that is what the Warriors prefer, and they did it just enough to beat the Pelicans 97-87 on Saturday night at New Orleans Arena.
“Back-to-backs, you have to get your blood flowing and find that wind from (the previous) night,” said Warriors point guard Stephen Curry, who had a team-high 28 points, many on drives as he fought through 2-of-9 3-point shooting. “We had to fight and find a way to get an edge and get over the hump and get that lead and not look back.”
The loss was the eighth in a row for the Pelicans (15-24), who received another big blow before the game in that starting center Jason Smith became the third key player out indefinitely. He has cartilage damage in his right knee and will need surgery.
The Warriors (15-24) avoided a third consecutive loss, holding the undermanned Pelicans, who missed their final 10 field-goal attempts, to 38.6 percent shooting, including 2 of 11 on 3-point tries.
The loss overshadowed a 31-point, 17-rebound performance by power forward Anthony Davis. However, only two other Pelicans scored in double figures — Tyreke Evans, who came back from a spained ankle and had 14, and Al-Farouq Aminu, who had 12.
Guard Eric Gordon, who scored 35 points in Wednesday’s home loss to Houston, had just eight this time on 3-of-17 shooting.
The Pelicans looked like the team on the second game of a back-to-back, scoring 54 points in the first half but just 33 in the second, including 15 in the fourth quarter.
Asked about his team’s scoring droughts, Pelicans coach Monty Williams said “That was the whole second half.
“I thought we had a chance to build a bit of a lead in the second quarter, and we didn’t. There were just a number of possessions where we just couldn’t score the ball.”
Davis was held to 10 points in the second half, and as the game wore on, the poor-shooting Pelicans were relegated to drives by Gordon and Evans that often were met at the rim. Golden State blocked 11 shots, five by center Andrew Bogut, who also had 10 points and 15 rebounds.
The resistance at the rim played a big part in the Pelicans shooting just 23-of-53 in the lane, Warriors All-Star power forward David Lee said.
“They were able to get some dives (to the rim) on the pick and roll in the first half, and we made some adjustments at halftime,” said Lee, who scored 22 points and also blocked two shots, as did small forward Andre Iguodala.
Golden State seized control in the third quarter. With 6:28 showing, the score was tied at 62. However, Iguodala lobbed to Bogut for a dunk.
The Warriors were leading 68-64 with 3:14 left when guard Klay Thompson hit a 3-pointer. Curry followed with a drive and a 3-pointer around a layup on a spin move by Evans, and it was 76-66 with two minutes left.
Aminu, with two baskets, led a late push that kept New Orleans at 78-74 when the quarter ended.
The Warriors stayed in control in the fourth, leading 89-80 with 4:32 remaining. Brian Roberts then sank a 3-pointer over Curry, was fouled and made the free throw, cutting the margin to five.
However, on the ensuing possession, Bogut rebounded Lee’s missed drive and scored, giving the Warriors a 91-84 lead at 4:17, and the Pelicans didn’t threaten the rest of the way, with neither team having much left in its offensive tank.
The Pelicans led 50-39 in the second quarter after Davis scored on the break. However, Curry sank a 3-pointer at 4:03, and the Pelicans then went into an offensive funk. That enabled Golden State to play its fast tempo, and it on a 9-0 run, bringing it to 50-48 with 2:10 left before halftime.
“We got stops,” said Curry, “and we have the weapons to turn that into points.”
By the time the second quarter ended, the Warriors had made nine of their final 11 shots, and New Orleans was clinging to a 54-52 lead.
Behind 15 points by Davis, New Orleans led 29-24 after the first quarter.