It’s hard enough to make a scouting report against the Golden State Warriors. Finding a way to win is downright daunting.
That’s been the case ever since the start of the 2015 playoffs, when Golden State began its run to an NBA title by plowing through the Smoothie King Center. The Warriors haven’t let up ever since.
Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant ensured the narrative wouldn’t change Friday night, notching Golden State's 12th consecutive win over the Pelicans, this time erasing a first-half deficit to tally a 128-120 victory in front of an ESPN audience.
Thompson scored 31 points, Curry added 28 and Durant 22.
Anthony Davis had 35 points and 17 rebounds for the Pelicans, and fellow big man DeMarcus Cousins also had 35 points. But New Orleans, after leading by double digits for much of the first half, lost its 64-61 advantage quickly in the third quarter and never got it back.
“The biggest obstacle is you can’t get down on getting behind," Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said before the game. "I thought Houston (in Tuesday’s season-opening win over Golden State) did a great job staying in the game and continuing to play. (The Warriors) are going to have these runs; they have been doing this for the past four years where all of a sudden you’re there. That really happened to us in three of the games last year, you know, where you’re right there and you take a timeout and say, ‘OK, in the next two minutes we have to be solid,’ and then all of sudden you’re down 14 or 12 points ... you have to avoid those situations.”
Gentry was clairvoyant in predicting the Warriors’ outbursts. On multiple occasions, Golden State buried 3-pointers most teams wouldn’t even think about attempting.
There was Curry fading from the wing, Durant on a full sprint to the corner and Klay Thompson with a hand in his face. Make, make, make.
The Pelicans took shot after shot from the defending champions and withstood them throughout the first half, thanks to a franchise record-tying number of 3-pointers in a half. New Orleans converted 11 of 19 attempts from long range. But as the game wore on, they couldn’t counter with the same ferocity.
A 67-64 halftime lead disappeared in the third and was a distant memory by the fourth, buried under an avalanche as the Warriors generated several jaw-dropping moments and preened their way across the road floor to a chorus of cheers from admiring fans.
Even as they lost their second consecutive game to the open the season, the Pelicans revealed their promise. Instead of the sloppy, stagnant offense that got bogged down in Wednesday’s defeat in Memphis, New Orleans outplayed the Warriors for several prolonged stretches. Even as the lead slipped away, the ball movement remained fluid.
And New Orleans never failed to counter, cutting the deficit to 121-116 in the final two minutes before Curry stuck the dagger by connecting on a corner 3-pointer.
Both Cousins and Davis found success playing off of one another and attacked the Warriors relentlessly, displaying the identity the team spent an entire offseason discussing.
Once again, their supporting cast wasn’t able to provide the necessary boost. After a hot shooting start, New Orleans made just a pair of 3-pointers in the second half before the game was out of reach.
More concerning than the shooting, however, is Jrue Holiday’s lack of production. After signing a five-year, $126 million contract extension this offseason, the guard has made just 7 of 27 field goals and distributed seven assists in two games.
While the Pelicans will only go as far as Davis and Cousins can take them, it’s hard to gauge the duo’s progress when they aren’t helped adequately.
Ultimately, on Friday, everything was hard to gauge. Golden State’s endless line of All-Stars were relentless, and it’s nearly impossible to stop Durant, Thompson, Curry and Green when they’re all on the floor.
Ultimately, it proved to be too much for the Pelicans.