Pelicans awaken in second half to subdue Warriors, 115-101
The New Orleans Pelicans earned a 111-101 victory over the Golden State Warriors on the road Sunday night but it wasn’t as straight forward as the final score would seem to indicate.
Golden State had lost five straight games on its home floor. The Warriors are a truly awful team at 12-44 on the year and without all of its stars.
Still, for one half against the Pelicans in San Francisco, the Pelicans appeared to have left their hearts in Portland, where they won on Friday night.
New Orleans came out very passive defensively and the undermanned Warriors got open looks and layups throughout the first quarter to take a 33-29 lead.
The Warriors shot 50 percent and New Orleans committed five turnovers. Damion Lee torched the Pelicans for 15 points while Zion Williamson had nine for the Pelicans but was 0-for-3 from the free throw line.
Things got no better in the second quarter. Brandon Ingram, JJ Redick and Jrue Holiday combined to shoot 5-of-22 from the field. Derrick Favors, Holiday and Lonzo Ball, all starters, combined for a total of four points.
New Orleans shot 17-of-49 (35%) in the half. Golden State outrebounded the Pelicans 33-29 and New Orleans committed nine turnovers which the Warriors scored 13 points off of.
Williamson scored 14 points in the half but he was just 1-of-6 from the free throw line.
The Pelicans trailed 56-46 at halftime and it could have been worse, much worse, considering how badly New Orleans played.
Holiday said Williamson spoke up in the locker room and that Alvin Gentry correctly reamed his team out. It worked.
Holiday played one of his best halves, if not his best half of the season in the second half while Nico Melli was perfect from 3-point range.
New Orleans came out of the break on fire as Holiday drained a pair of 3-pointers and Ingram hit another to cut the deficit to 60-59 just 3:28 into the third quarter.
Ingram converted a 3-point play with 6:47 to play in the quarter to tie the game 64-64.
The Pelicans then built a 7-point lead but when they went to the bench, that lead disappeared as Golden State rallied to tie the game 77-77 going to the final quarter.
New Orleans was 13-of-26 (50%) from the field in the quarter.
The fourth quarter belonged to New Orleans as well, blitzing the Warriors 38-24 to pull away for the win. The second half saw the Pelicans outscore Golden State 69-45, a complete turn-around.
In the second half, Holiday was 9-of-11 from the field, scoring 21 points. He finished with 23 points, 15 assists and seven rebounds. It was the first time Holiday had at least 14 assists in a game since December of 2018.
On top of that, Holiday was his usual lock-down self defensively in the second half.
Meanwhile, Melli deservedly got more minutes and took total advantage, shooting the lights out. Melli scored 20 points on just eight shots. He was 7-of-8 from the field, including 6-of-7 from 3-point range, played good defense and added five rebounds, all in just 23 minutes.
Then, there was Williamson.
The brilliant rookie finished with 28 points on 13-of-20 shooting with seven rebounds. Zion has scored 20 or more points in 10 of his 13 games.
Despite a bad shooting night, Ingram finished with 17 points.
New Orleans moved ahead of San Antonio and into tenth in the Western Conference, a half game behind Portland, with the win. The Spurs fell to Oklahoma City 131-103.
The Pelicans are only 3.5 games behind Memphis for the eighth and final playoff spot and the Grizzlies have lost star Jaren Jackson Jr. for at least two weeks with a knee injury.
New Orleans had 21 assists in the second half after just 13 in the first half. The team leads the league in assists since Christmas Day. The Pelicans had only four turnovers in second half. New Orleans shares the basketball, trusting and liking each other.
The Pels showed toughness in coming back but they will not be able to afford playing the way it played in the first half against better competition.
That is certainly true of the Lakers, the best team in the Western Conference. The Pelicans conclude the 3-game road trip Tuesday night at Staples Center. Regardless of the outcome, this was a good road trip for New Orleans.
Mature teams handle their business against lesser teams. Playoff teams beat the teams they are supposed to beat. New Orleans is maturing and looking more like a playoff team every day as a team with heart.
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE Owner and CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association,…