Pelicans within one win of playoff berth with 126-120 win at Warriors
— FOXSports NewOrleans (@FOXSportsNOLA) April 8, 2018
The magic number for the New Orleans Pelicans to make the NBA playoffs is one, as in one more victory after the biggest victory of the season Saturday night.
There is no doubting that fact, given the qualiity of the opponent and the gravity of the situation.
The Pelicans snapped a 10-game regular season losing streak and a 14-game losing streak overall to the world champion Golden State Warriors in a thrilling 126-120 victory at Oakland Saturday night.
It was the ultimate team victory.
How the Pelicans won it was what was most encouraging.
With their season on the line and getting no help from anyone else in the crazy close chase for the final five playoff spots in the Western conference, New Orleans outplayed the Warriors in their home building in the fourth quarter. That came after Steve Kerr had called his team out following their most recent loss.
Make no mistake about it.
The Warriors were motivated and all in on beating the Pelicans again Saturday night. New Orleans refused to let it happen.
The Pelicans outscored the Warriors 38-28 in the final quarter to secure the big win.
Anthony Davis had 34 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and four blocked shots with two steals. He was brilliant.
Once again, Nikola Mirotic came up huge, scoring 28 points and pulling down six rebounds with four steals and three assists.
ALL HAIL @THREEKOLA 🙏🙏
— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) April 8, 2018
Jrue Holiday had 26 points, six assists, five rebounds and four steals. E’Twaun Moore had 15 points and seven assists and Rajon Rondo had 12 points and dished out 17 assists and had a big strip of Kevin Durant late in the game. Darius Miller drilled a huge 3-pointer with 5:59 to play to put New Orleans up to stay at 110-108.
After Andre Iguodala dunked with 1:01 to play to cut the deficit to 121-119, Moore answered with a huge 18-footer to make it 123-119 with 23.5 seconds left. Holiday then made two free throws to put the game away.
As for Durant, he was terrific with 41 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. It was not enough.
The Pelicans shot 56 percent (49-of-87) from the field. Their ball movement was outstanding, as evidenced by the 39 assists they dished out. That offset Golden State shooting 54 percent from the field. The Pelicans had just eight turnovers while the Warriors had 17 turnovers. New Orleans won the points in the paint battle 62-52.
The win was essential.
Denver whipped the Clippers 134-115 to stay a game behind the Pelicans. The loss eliminated the Clippers from playoff contention Oklahoma City downed Houston 108-102 to remain tied with New Orleans. The Spurs also remained tied with the Pelicans with a 116-105 over the Blazers.
With two games left, the Pelicans remain tied for fifth at 46-34, a half game behind fourth place Utah and a half game ahead of eighth place Minnesota.
New Orleans finishes off its road trip at Los Angeles against the Clippers Monday night. With Los Angeles out of the playoff picture, perhaps the path for a New Orleans win becomes easier, perhaps not. The Pelicans must show up and play with purpose.
The last thing the Pelicans want to do is have their postseason fate come down to next Wednesday night’s regular season finale against the Spurs, a team accustomed to such situations.
If the Pelicans can win both remaining games, they will finish no worse than sixth in the West and will avoid Houston and Golden State in the opening round.
While the Warriors did not have Steph Curry, let us not forget that the Pelicans have been without Demarcus Cousins.
On the biggest stage, New Orleans got its biggest win. Now, they need another one.
As a result, New Orleans dramatically improved its position in the Western Conference race, keeping a foothold on fifth place, while moving extremely close to sealing a trip to the playoffs.
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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…