Pelicans Come Up Short, Warriors Take 2-0 Lead
The Pelicans will return to New Orleans down 0-2 to the Golden State Warriors after dropping game 2 in Oakland 121-116 in a hard fought battle on Tuesday night.
After a blowout loss in game 1, the Pelicans competed for 4 quarters, refusing to back down in a physical, chippy postseason matchup.
"You want me to talk in coaches clichés? I will," said New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry after the game. "The only thing they did was what they were supposed to do. They won their two home games, and now we get to go home and play. Obviously, we played hard and there were a lot of things we improved on and there was a lot of things we have to continue to improve on."
One area of improvement needs to be turnovers. The Pelicans protected the ball well early in the game, but ended it with 13 TOs, leading to easy Golden State baskets.
"We've got to eliminate the timely turnovers," added Gentry. "As I said in the first game, this is a team you can turn the ball over against without playing a huge price."
Free throw disparity is another story in game 2.
With an emphasis on extremely fast pace, the Pelicans aggressively attacked the paint, something they didn't do with any consistency in a blowout loss in game 1.
Two-time NBA MVP Steph curry returned from injury, scoring 28 points off the bench, getting to the free throw line a team leading 7 times in 27 minutes of play. The Warriors
Conversely, the Pelicans only shot 9 free throws all night. Despite stars Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday aggressively driving the ball into the lane and playing a combined 90 minutes, neither attempted a single free throw.
"I think we played aggressively. I think both of them did," said Gentry. "Jrue took the ball to the basket. As I said, we had 54 shots in the paint. So, I think that is being aggressive."
Davis finished with a team-high 25 points and 15 rebounds, while Holiday scored 24 points, adding 8 assists and 8 rebounds.
Free throws are the focus for the Pelicans heading into game 3.
"If we can get to the line, we can control the pace," explained New Orleans point guard Rajon Rondo. "They were able to control to the pace by getting to the line as many times as they did. They were able to get back and set their defense....We've gotta do a better job of trying to draw fouls."
Davis shared the sentiment.
"We just need to get to the (free throw) line. Me and Jrue (Holiday)," added Davis. "That can give our team a chance to get in the penalty...that's the biggest thing, just trying to get to the free throw line."
Golden State star Kevin Durant scored a game-high 29, scoring in iso against Holiday in the final frame.
All-Star Draymond Green, known for getting under the skin of the opponent, was verbally jousting with Rondo throughout the night.
"He's a competitor. I'm a competitor. It is what it is," explained Green. "At halftime he came up to me...(Green paused before continuing). I'm not a guy who repeats stuff that's said on the floor."
Green ended game 2 with 20 points and 2 three-pointers, both of which came on crucial back-to-back possessions in the 4th quarter.
Rondo procured a double-double with 22 points and 12 assists, but committed 7 turnovers.
Game 3 shifts to New Orleans on Friday night at 7:00pm in a must-win matchup for the Pelicans. Team with 3-0 leads in the NBA playoffs are 127-0 all-time.