Pelicans put up fight but can’t overcome Curry-led Warriors in Game 2

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Steph Curry

The effort was outstanding and it was consistent from start to finish.

The New Orleans Pelicans left it all on the floor. There is no denying it.

It wasn’t enough against the best basketball team in the world.

When you take away a star from most teams, you win.

New Orleans did that to Klay Thompson, defending him well and watching him suffer through a poor shooting night. For three quarters, the Pelicans shut down an NBA Most Valuable Player in Kevin Durant for three quarters. Then came the fourth quarter.

For good measure, Golden State brought another NBA Most Valuable Player off the bench in Steph Curry.

The guy has only played in 51 games this season. He had not played in a month. You would never have known it. Curry scored 28 points in 27 minutes off the bench while Durant pumped in 15 points in the fourth quarter to finish with 29 overall in a 121-116 win over the Pelican in game two of the Western Conference semifinals at Oracle Arena.

The Pelicans pushed at a frenetic pace early, running at all costs, including off of made shots by the Warriors. They were hoisting up shots barely into the shot clock at an alarming rate.

It paid off for a while.

New Orleans led 29-27 after one quarter, largely due to New Orleans committing just one turnover.

Golden State outscored the Pelicans 31-26 to lead 58-55 at the half on a lucky 3-point bank shot by Thompson to close the half. New Orleans had a 38-26 lead in points in the paint and a 20-6 bulge in fast break points by the break. The Pelicans were in it despite shooting just 4-of-20 from 3-point range.

New Orleans gave up a big run by Golden State early in the third quarter but clawed back to cut the deficit to 88-86 going to the fourth quarter.

It was anyone’s game.

That’s when the world champions and Durant showed up.

Durant dominated the quarter, New Orleans committed bad turnovers and could not overcome it.

Durant finished with 29 points, seven assists and six rebounds.

Then, there was Draymond Green.

If you play against him or are a fan of another team, you cannot stand the guy. He is boisterous, cocky, loud, irritating, annoying.

If he plays for you or with you, it is altogether a different story. You have to love him.

Green is a great passer, very unselfish. He rebounds well. He can score when needed. Most of all, he is a ferocious defender.

New Orleans plays fast and plays it well. Golden State plays fast and plays it better.

Perhaps this is simply a bad matchup. The Pelicans do not play slow. They could attempt to do so but it is not their personality. Perhaps if DeMarcus Cousins were healthy, they could to so. He is not and they will not.

The result is that beating the Warriors in the series is likely not going to happen. Who is going to beat them?

If Curry plays like he played on this night, it is a rhetorical question.

Niko Mirotic competed well, going for 18 points and nine rebounds but he fouled out with around three minutes left.

Jrue Holiday had 24 points, eight rebounds and eight assists but shot just 2-of-9 from 3-point range.

Golden State made Rajon Rondo a scorer and he responded with 22 points, 12 assists, seven rebounds and five steals, though he did commit seven turnovers.

E’Twaun Moore had 14 points, including sinking 4-of-8 from 3-point range.

Anthony Davis overcame dinging his left ankle in the third quarter to score 25 points with 15 rebounds, five assists and three blocks.

Once again, the Pelicans were largely ineffective off the bench.

New Orleans reserves scored just 13 points. Cheick Diallo got four minutes at the end of the third quarter and scored four points with two rebounds. Perhaps Diallo should get the minutes Solomon Hill has gotten.

Hill was again ineffective, scoring two points in 10 minutes, going 1-for-6 from the field and 0-for-3 from 3-point range. He cannot shoot and has no other effective skill.

Darius Miller had five points while Ian Clark had just two points in another ineffective performance.

The Golden State bench scored 44 points, including Curry’s outburst.

One number to look at in the two games thus far is the tremendous disparity at the free throw line.

On this night, Golden State shot 27 free throws to just nine for New Orleans.

For those that would argue that it is due to the Warriors penetrating and drawing fouls, I beg to differ.

The stars, the champions are getting the calls at home. Maybe that will change on the road, perhaps not.

In two games, Golden State has attempted 59 free throws to 20 for the Pelicans.

Consider the fact that the Pelicans outscored Golden State 66-38 in the paint. Who was getting it inside? Holiday constantly drove it to the rim and got no free throw attempts. Davis drove, posted up, got beat up and got no attempts, either.

New Orleans won the battle of fast break points 39-24. The Pelicans won the turnover battle, committing 16, still too many, whole Golden State had 19.

The Pelicans come home to Smoothie King Center for game three Friday night and game four Sunday.

To have any chance against the best team on the planet, the Pelicans have to hold serve and sweep. How hard will that be?

Consider this fact.

To win the series, New Orleans will have to win four of five games against the Warriors. As a realist, that is hard to fathom.

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Ken Trahan

Ken Trahan

Owner/CEO

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 Football Foundation, College…

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