Pelicans turn lights out on Curry, Warriors late for win
The light of the New Orleans Pelicans trying to make the NBA playoffs was quite dim entering the second of back-to-back games with the Warriors.
It was akin to a flashlight battery about to go out and the light dimming by the moment.
The light stayed on as the battery held out throughout the course of 48 minutes.
The lights went out briefly with 3:57 to play in the third quarter.
Perhaps it was a metaphor as Stephen Curry was busy shooting the lights out as the Golden State Warriors appeared on their way to another win over the New Orleans Pelicans, which would have virtually sealed the deal on New Orleans missing the playoffs.
When the lights came back on, the light went on for the Pelicans defensively and the light switch of Curry’s offense went off.
From that point forward, Curry made just 1-of-10 shots the rest of the way, scoring just two points in the fourth quarter as New Orleans rallied Tuesday night to defeat the Warriors 108-103 at Smoothie King Center.
The Pelicans closed the game in huge fashion on a 29-14 run to pull away for the victory.
Defensive credit went to Lonzo Ball and Eric Bledsoe for finally clamping down on Curry, with a little help from teammates to wall the superstar off the rest of the way.
New Orleans did not shoot well in the first half but played hard and stayed close.
Shot just 38.9 percent from the field in the first half and only trailed 57-56.
After a bad night Monday, Ball bounced back with a big first half, scoring 16 points, making 4-of-6 shots from three point range. He would back it up with a big second half as well.
After a slow start, Zion Williamson finished the first half with 15 points.
While Williamson and Ball were on their games, Brandon Ingram was not, making just 3-of-12 shots for seven points.
Most encouraging was the fact that New Orleans had just five turnovers in the first half.
Curry continued to torture the Pelicans for a half.
After scoring 41 points in a win on Monday night, Curry had 24 points in the first half, including 5-of-9 from three point range.
The Warriors committed 10 turnovers in the half.
Williamson injured his fingers with 8:49 to play in the third quarter and went to the locker room.
He returned to the floor and returned to the game with 4:39 to play in the third quarter.
New Orleans scored just 19 points in the third quarter but stayed in the game as Golden State went cold as well but the Warriors carried a 79-75 lead into the final quarter.
Steven Adams returned from injury but left the game injured with 2:59 to play in the third quarter while Ingram left injured at virtually the same time.
In the fourth quarter, the Pelicans remained good defensively and found their offense, scoring 33 points.
New Orleans held Golden State to just 46 points in the second half, leading to victory.
With the game on the line, Bledsoe scored with 1:30 left to give New Orleans a 100-98 lead.
Draymond Green scored with 49 seconds to tie the game at 100-100 but he missed an and-one free throw which would have given the Warriors the lead.
Ball hit a step-back jumper with 25.3 seconds left to give the Pelicans a 102-100 lead, a lead they would not relinquish.
Williamson was fouled by Green on a clear path foul and made two free throws with 15.9 seconds left to make it 104-100.
New Orleans maintained possession and Ball was fouled and made both free throws after being fouled and New Orleans had a 106-100 lead with 14.6 seconds remaining.
The Pelicans got another stop and Ball was fouled again.
Ball made both, again, to put the game away.
Ball matched his career high with 33 points, the second time in three games Ball has done so.
That is especially impressive after Ball had a miserable game in a loss to the Warriors Monday night, when he was just 3-of-18 from the field for seven points, going 1-of-9 from three point range.
On this night, Ball was 11-of-23 from the field, including 7-of-13 from three-point range.
Surrounded by a wall of defenders, Williamson fought hard to score 23 points on just 8-of-17 shooting as everything was contested. Williamson came up huge, making 7-of-8 free throws and he pulled down 12 rebounds with seven assists and four steals to offset six turnovers.
Bledsoe had 14 points and Naji Marshall was solid again with 10 points and seven rebounds off the bench.
The Pelicans won despite shooting just 40.2 percent from the floor and won without Ingram on the floor for some of the third quarter and all of the fourth quarter.
The Pelicans committed just 12 turnovers and held the Warriors to just 41.9 percent shooting from the field.
A decisive factor in the New Orleans victory was the free throw line, where the Pelicans sank 18-of-22 attempts and the Warriors were just 5-of-7.
With the win, New Orleans pulled back within three games of Golden State in the Western Conference, within three games of Memphis and within two games of the Spurs for the tenth and final spot in the play-in scenario.
Now, the Pelicans, with six games remaining at 30-36, must hit the road for a very challenging five-game road trip beginning at Eastern Conference leader Philadelphia Friday night. The Pelicans beat the 76ers at home 101-94 on April 9.
Philadelphia will be highly motivated to avenge that loss and to try to win the top seed in the Eastern Conference. It will be a very tough challenge.
For one night, the Pelicans showed toughness and resilience in the face of adversity to keep their postseason hopes alive. Now, they can take time recharge or change the battery prior to the road trip as they keep the lights on for now.
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE 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, National Football…