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Curry injured, Durant ejected late as Warriors come back from 20-point deficit to down Pelicans


Steve Kerr doesn’t lose his cool often.

But after Kevin Durant threw away an inbound pass during a Warriors’ third quarter rally, Kerr could barley contain himself. Immediately after a New Orleans layup, the fourth-year head coach called a timeout and walked out to the floor with his face red, and his hands on his hips in disbelief.

Kerr was angry.

Though his team faced a 20-point halftime deficit and committed confounding errors that perplexed the head coach deep into the second half, Golden State found a way to prove once again just how large its margin for error is in a 125-116 win.

The final three minutes of Monday’s contest were loaded with pivotal moments for Golden State, as Durant was ejected for the second time on the team’s six-game road trip while Steph Curry exited in the fourth quarter with an apparent ankle injury.

After being tossed Friday night in Orlando, Durant exchanged words with Pelicans’ big man DeMarcus Cousins in the waning moments and both players were sent off the floor by the officials. A minute later, Curry turned his right ankle attempting to close out a three-point attempt, which leaves his status in doubt for the remainder of the team’s trip.

The cost of the victory could be critical for Golden State moving forward, as Kerr didn’t have much to smile about even though his team improved to 4-0 since leaving Oracle Arena.

Kerr’s third quarter timeout came just a few minutes after he told Warriors’ sideline reporter Kerith Burke, “We f—ing sucked,” en route to the locker room at halftime. It’s hard to blame Kerr for feeling that way, too. After playing New Orleans evenly for much of the first half, the Warriors allowed a 24-4 run to end the second quarter to a New Orleans team that was without its best player, Anthony Davis, who sat with a groin injury, and Davis’ co-star, DeMarcus Cousins, who simply found himself on the bench during the Pelicans’ run.

At the end of the half, Steph Curry and Durant carried plus-minuses of -25 to the locker room, as a Warriors’ defense that looked good on its first three games of a six-game road trip collapsed. Things got so bad that the notorious weak-shooting guard, Rajon Rondo, had nailed two three-pointers.

While the lapse from Durant that forced Kerr to call timeout looked like an extension of the Warriors’ brutal second quarter, it was one of the first true mistakes Golden State made after falling behind by 20. In fact, after the halftime breather, the Warriors emerged with a fire in their eyes, as they started the second half on a 15-0 run that cut New Orleans’ lead to just five.

In the blink of an eye, the game had turned, as a Pelicans’ team that looked like it could do no wrong suddenly had no chance of competing with the Warriors. With just over five minutes to play in the third quarter, though, New Orleans caught a break. The Pelicans had a 4-on-1 that led to a wide open three-point attempt, but somehow, it turned into a transition three on the other end for Klay Thompson after the Warriors’ hustled back for a defensive rebound.

At the end of the third quarter, Golden State had trimmed a 20-point deficit to just three, and appeared poised to cut down the branch keeping the Pelicans in front. The avalanche was spawned by Curry, who sat out the fourth quarter on Sunday evening in Miami and appeared un-guardable at points during the Warriors’ comeback.

Though the Warriors didn’t carry their momentum into the fourth quarter, they did play bucket-for-bucket with New Orleans and finally took their first lead of the half on an Andre Iguodala transition dunk with eight and a half minutes to play. After sitting out the previous two games with a sore knee, Iguodala’s presence was a welcome addition to a Golden State lineup that lost backup point guard Shaun Livingston to a one-game suspension on Monday afternoon and reserve shooting guard Patrick McCaw to a nose injury midway through the second quarter.

McCaw suffered his injury on a dunk attempt that was swatted away by Cousins, who turned McCaw away after the Warriors’ guard thought he had a clear path to the hoop. Cousins also took credit for another block earlier in the game that ultimately led to a technical foul on Draymond Green.

After the Warriors’ forward entered the lane, he made contact with Cousins under the hoop on a drive that he thought should have resulted in a pair of free throw attempts. Following a no-call, Green pleaded his case with an official, and was immediately issued a technical foul.

Later on, Cousins earned one of his own, giving both players a league-high seven technicals on the season.

 

 

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