SAN FRANCISCO —Anthony Davis has earned mostly raves in his first three seasons in the NBA. Several observers have called him one of the top five players in the league, despite the 6-foot-11 center being just 22.
But expectations and scrutiny increase when you get to the playoffs, and fans and media were breaking down Davis’ playoff debut Saturday. Davis scored a game-high 35 points, but 18 of them came in the final five minutes, 14 seconds of the game. Those points helped New Orleans trim a 25-point deficit to four points in the final seconds, but it wasn’t enough to produce a victory.
Worse, Davis was stuck on one rebound through three quarters before grabbing six in the final period.
The clichéd explanation was that Davis was nervous and tentative because it was his first game in the glare of the playoffs.
“It’s definitely a different level, a different atmosphere,” Davis said Sunday before the Pelicans practiced at the University of San Francisco. “The calls are different. Guys have been scouting you and know your moves. But this is what you come to the league for, to get playoff experience and eventually get to the Finals and win a ring.”
Davis noted the Golden State crowd, which has always been known as one of the NBA’s best, lived up to its billing.
“There’s so much going on,” he said. “It was so loud I couldn’t hear my teammates, I couldn’t hear my coaches.”
Most of the focus was on Tyreke Evans’ injury and Davis’ early struggles. But New Orleans was awful at times on defense in Game 1 and would presumably need to make some adjustments. Davis was often pulled away from the paint guarding Golden State center Andrew Bogut. The Warriors executed several high pick-and-rolls that resulted in uncontested drives for layups through the key with no Pelicans defenders there to contest.
“I think Bogut is really good, crafty,” Pelicans coach Monty Williams said. “Sets moving screens a ton. If you go to help, he’ll grab your arm, that kind of stuff. Bogut’s one of the better bigs in the league. He doesn’t get a lot of credit because of (Steph Curry) and (Klay Thompson) for what he does to help the team. I think he’s third-most-important on the team. He’s that good.
“I’m sure he paid special attention to Anthony to keep him away from the glass.”
Williams called his team’s pick-and-roll defense “poor” after Saturday’s game. However ...
“You’re playing against the best team in the NBA,” he said. “If you think you’re going to take away everything, you’re crazy. We’ve got to figure out which poison it’s necessary to take away. We’re one of the best at taking away 3s. But yesterday, they were in the paint shooting layup after layup after layup because we were taking away 3s. We had some mistakes on our small, small screen. We didn’t get the proper switches that we needed to get.
“A lot of it is because they run their sets really hard. And that’s the way you’re supposed to run them. They’re a good team. I wish I had a better answer, but they’re a really good team.”
Lee still out
The Warriors announced that forward David Lee is still out with a lower back strain. Lee missed Game 1 with the same injury.
Williams was asked what he told Davis before Game 1.
“I just wanted to remind him … nobody thought we’d be here,” Williams said. “So let’s just be us. No need to reinvent yourself today. I’m going to be me: an idiot. You be you: a great player. We’ll be in great shape.”
The San Francisco Chronicle reported that during ABC’s telecast of Game 1, former Warriors coach Mark Jackson endorsed first-year Golden State coach Steve Kerr as coach of the year. Jackson was fired after the 2013-14 season despite leading the Warriors to their first back-to-back playoff berths since the first Don Nelson era (1990-91, 1991-92).
Jackson had been quoted during an earlier telecast as saying, “I think while giving (Kerr) credit, there’s no reason to take credit away from the past. You cannot disrespect the caterpillar while raving about the butterfly.”