NEW ORLEANS – The New Orleans Pelicans knew Friday’s game was a must win if they wanted any chance against the defending NBA champions in these playoffs.
And they played exactly how they needed to.
The Pelicans started strong and never looked back as they blew out the Golden State Warriors 119-100 at the Smoothie King Center in Game 3 of their Western Conference Semifinals series.
New Orleans came out firing as they raced out to a 30-21 lead after the first quarter, fueled by as 17-4 run, which began with back-to-back three-pointers. Overall in the first half alone, the Pelicans would finish with 10 three-pointers.
“The thing we told the guys was we had to remain consistent in what we do,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. “I thought we did a good job of that. We didn’t panic when they made those runs and we did a good job of withstanding that.”
Game 3 is Sunday afternoon in New Orleans.
A return home is just what the Pelicans needed as they made 14 three-pointers, shooting 50 percent from the field, and outscored Golden State 30-19 in the third quarter.
Anthony Davis played like the player who led the Pelicans to a first-round sweep of the Portland Trail Blazers, finishing with 33 points and 18 rebounds. Jrue Holiday chipped in with 21 points, while Rajon Rondo added 21 assists on the night.
“Anthony told me “we’re not losing this game” and that made me feel good,” Gentry said. “He took advantage of post-ups when he could and went quickly so they [Warriors] couldn’t double. I thought it was a good team win.”
The Warriors struggled all night to get things going on the offensive end. Klay Thompson led Golden State with 26 points on 40 percent shooting. Kevin Durant struggled from the field for the first time in a long time but still managed to score 22 points. He would shoot just 1-for-6 from three-point range.
Stephen Curry added 19 points on 31 percent shooting in just his second game back from an MCL sprain.
The Warriors were unusually cold from three-point range, shooting just 9-of-31 (29 percent) and shot 38 percent overall on the night.
“The Pelicans’ defense was great and they were the aggressors,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “They brought the force to the game on their home floor. I applaud them and give them the credit they deserve.”
Kerr started Curry after having him come off the bench and inserted JaVale McGee into the starting lineup for the first time in the series. McGee played just nine minutes on the night and had just two points.
But Kerr knows what the Pelicans are capable of and what his team needs to do to fix things.
“We made mistakes we didn’t make in the first two games,” he said. They [Pelicans] played a lot better but we need to come back strong on Sunday.”