Golden State gets the rest it wanted. Unfortunately for the Pelicans, they get to rest now, too.
New Orleans’ season came to a halt Saturday night with a 109-98 loss to the Warriors at the Smoothie King Center.
“I told the guys to hold on to this hurt we have right now,” coach Monty Williams said. “Coach (Pat) Riley always talks about going through that penetrating hurt to get where you want to go.”
Golden State, the top seed in the Western Conference and owner of the best record in the NBA this season, completed a four-game sweep and advances to the conference semifinals to play the winner of the Memphis-Portland series.
The No. 8 seed Pelicans head to the offseason after finishing the regular season 45-37 and reaching the playoffs for the first time since 2011. New Orleans has dropped its past four playoff series, with its most recent series win coming against Dallas in the first round in 2008. This was the first time the franchise has been swept.
“We got swept, and that’s a tough pill to swallow,” Pelicans forward Anthony Davis said.
Stephen Curry, who burned the Pelicans for 40 points in Game 3, finished with 39 points Saturday.
“Playing against Steph just isn’t fair sometimes, some of the shots he hits,” Williams said. “Our guys fought and played good defense. All the numbers guys would say it was bad defense on paper, but our guys played their butts off, and they did that all year.”
Davis led the Pelicans with 36 points and 11 rebounds, falling just short of the franchise record for points in a playoff game. David West holds that mark with 38, set against the Spurs in 2008.
“I’m glad we don’t have to see Anthony Davis again until November at the earliest,” Golden State coach Steve Kerr said.
Eric Gordon finished with 29 points, but it wasn’t quite enough on a night when the Warriors rained down 13 3-pointers. Curry knocked down six 3s, and Klay Thompson had four.
“Steph and Klay are great shooters,” Davis said. “You play great defense. You think they are just throwing up a shot, but it’s a good look to them, and they go in.”
Unlike Game 3, it wasn’t a late-game collapse or last-second heartbreaking shot by Curry that did the Pelicans in. It was just a steady dose of the Warriors, who looked every bit the part of the team with the league’s best record.
It was a tough-luck lesson for the Pelicans.
“It’s tough to win a playoff game,” Davis said. “When you are playing against a great team, you have to take advantage when you have the lead.”
The duo of Curry and Draymond Green outscored the Pelicans in the first quarter. Curry and Green combined for 27 of Golden State’s first-quarter points as the Pelicans trailed 31-24.
“When Draymond shoots like that, we usually win,” Kerr said.
Golden State stretched the lead in the second quarter, thanks mostly to the hot shooting of Thompson.
Thompson, who had an NBA-record 37 points in one quarter earlier this season, scored 11 straight for the Warriors late in the second half. Curry closed the half with a rainbow 3-pointer to give the visitors a 67-54 lead, their largest of the half.
“I thought tonight we started off the best we have the whole series,” Curry said.
Curry’s half-ending 3 was the ninth of the game for the Warriors, who shot a blazing 64.3 percent (9-of-14) from behind the arc in the first two quarters.
Things didn’t get much better in the third quarter, when the Warriors went on a 16-2 run. A dunk by Andre Iguodala with less than three minutes left in the third put the Pelicans in an 87-63 hole.
The Warriors led 88-67 going into the final quarter, but they weren’t about to let that lead slip away — like the Pelicans did in Game 3.
The Smoothie King whiteout looked like it was about to turn into the Smoothie King wipeout.
The Pelicans could have easily surrendered by waving the white flag, or one of the thousands of white towels that were passed out to the fans as they entered the arena. But they didn’t.
They started the fourth quarter on a 9-0 run, highlighted by five points by Ryan Anderson to trim the deficit to 88-76 and bring the crowd to life. They also had a 7-0 run later in the quarter.
Each time, the Warriors answered.
“It was a great test,” Kerr said. “We had our troubles, but we passed the test, and we move on.”
Anderson finished with 10 points for the Pelicans.
“We fought the whole game,” Davis said, “even when were down by 20.”