The Golden State Warriors have both the best offense and defense in the league. It was the defense that carried them on Monday night at Oracle Arena.
The Warriors earned a hard-fought come-from-behind 97-87 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans by holding them to 25.7 percent shooting in the second half and now lead the best-of-seven series two games to none. Klay Thompson led Golden State with 26 points, including 14 in the fourth quarter. Stephen Curry had 22 points and six assists.
“Happy with the energy,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “The focus was sporadic. We obviously had enough intensity the whole game, but our focus waned a couple times, a couple stretches in the first and third quarter where we just started overdribbling, and attacking in places where there wasn’t any space. So we’ve got to put four quarters together where we’re just executing and moving the ball and taking care of it.”
Draymond Green stuffed the box score again with 14 points, 12 rebounds, five assists and three steals. Andrew Bogut finished with 14 rebounds and three blocks. Leandro Barbosa added 12 points off the bench.
“It’s hard to put into words what Draymond means to the team,” Kerr said. “I think you guys who have been watching this club all year know he does everything. He’s a jack of all trades. On top of that, he’s one of our leaders and the guy who talks the most trash to the other team, to the refs to his teammates, to me. He’s kind of our life line. It’s great.”
“He’s (Green) a gamer,” Curry added. “He finds different ways to impact the game. Obviously we know he’s going to defend at a high level, whoever his match‑up is and make some plays that won’t show up on the stat sheet that kind of get the crowd into it, just bring some life into us out on the floor. He just always finds a way to be in the mix.”
Anthony Davis led New Orleans with 26 points, 10 rebounds, two steals and two blocks. Eric Gordan made five 3-pointers and finished with 23 points. Tyreke Evans had 16 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists. Omer Asik added 13 points and two steals.
The Pelicans managed to keep the Oracle crowd mostly quiet in the first quarter. They scored 28 points on 44 percent shooting and holding the Warriors to just 17 points on 31.8 percent. Davis carried his momentum from the second half of Game 1 with 10 points and two steals. Gordon added 11 points and was a perfect 3-for-3 from 3-point range. New Orleans scored 14 points-in-the-paint. Golden State countered with 13 fast-break points.
The Warriors started to play their brand of basketball at the start of the second quarter and it was their reserves showing the way. Marreese Speights nailed two midrange jumpers, Barbosa drove for two layups , Shaun Livingston dished out three assists and Iguodala splashed a 3-pointer in the first three minutes as Golden State went on a 11-4 run to cut the deficit to four. The trio of Speights, Barbosa and Livingston combined for just two points in Game 1.
“Everybody on the bench was ready and knew that they didn’t have their best game in Game 1,” Curry said. “In the playoffs, everybody has to be up for that task of taking advantage of their minutes on the floor because you don’t know how each game’s going to go and where your points are going to come from and things like that. That’s why we’re so good, I think because it’s such a well‑balanced effort night‑in and night‑out.”
The Pelicans maintained their poise and rebuilt a 47-38 lead with just under four minutes remaining in the first half. But Golden State tied the game with a 9-0 run in a span of 1:43 and took a 3-point lead at halftime after Curry splashed a 3-pointer with 9.3 seconds left.
After a dismal first quarter, the Warriors scored 38 points on 76.5 percent shooting in the second. Curry and Barbosa each had eight points. Thompson and Green added six points apiece. Norris Cole scored nine points for the Pelicans, who were outscored by 14 despite shooting 50 percent.
Golden State tried to pull away from the young Pelicans in the second half, but was unable to do so. The Warriors led by nine early in the second half, but New Orleans quickly tied it. Golden State went up by eight in the fourth quarter, but allowed the Pelicans to climb back within 85-84, setting up a tense final five minutes.
That’s when the league’s best defense in the regular season stepped up. The Warriors gave up just three points the rest of the way and did not allow a field goal in the last 4:43. Thompson provided the offense with eight points. He splashed a 3-pointer and converted a 3-point play.
“I wasn’t going out there trying to force anything,” Thompson said. “I was just trying to get a great shot if I was open, and I was moving well without the ball, and moving from side‑to‑side, and happened to catch me in rhythm, and I do what I do best.”
The Warriors shot 44.2 percent for the game and just 9-of-30 from 3-point range. Golden State finished with a 24-7 edge in fastbreak points. The Pelicans again committed one less turnover. Curry did not score in the final 17 minutes. Davis was held to without a field goal in the final quarter.
“We’re trying to put a lot of pressure on him,” Kerr said. “Between Bogut and Draymond, we’re trying to go back and forth and give them a different look and try to help without giving up the three‑point shots, which is easier said than done. But we’re throwing the kitchen sink at him. That’s all you can do.”
David Lee missed his second straight playoff game with a lower back strain. Jrue Holiday missed the game with a stress reaction in his lower right leg.
The series shifts to New Orleans and the Smoothie King Center for Games 3 and 4. Game 3 is scheduled to tip off at 6:40 p.m. PDT on Thursday.