It was almost a win that would’ve put the Pelicans’ playoff hopes to bed. Instead it was a loss that keeps them mathematically able to spoil the Warriors’ playoff hopes in the near future.
The Warriors ran out of gas in New Orleans on Tuesday night, dropping the rematch 108-103 in a game that went down to the wire. Ultimately, it was Lonzo Ball who was too much for the Warriors, his go-ahead step-back with 18 seconds proving to be the games-deciding basket, his two-free throws with 14 seconds to put the Pelicans up six the nail in the coffin.
The loss spoiled a number of impressive performances from the Warriors’ best players. The Warriors split their final road trip of the year 2-2. Here are a couple takeaways:
Curry, Wiggins and Draymond give it their all; it’s not enough
On some nights, perhaps most nights, excellent performances from Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins would be more than enough to win. On Tuesday it wasn’t, mostly because Curry (37 points) and Andrew Wiggins (26 points) were the only two players to score in double-figures. That’s even more staggering considering just eight guys played, which is likely a huge part of the reason Golden State looked so tired at the end.
Kent Bazemore scored five points in 30 minutes. Juan Toscano-Anderson scored three in 25. Draymond Green, who was excellent, especially down the stretch, added just seven in 36 minutes (12 rebounds, nine assists).
Still, it was almost enough to beat the Pelicans for the second night in a row, if not for an All-Star performance from Lonzo Ball (33 points, seven 3s), who has now scored at least 30 points twice in his last three games. Previously, Ball had never scored 30 in an NBA game.
It’s especially disappointing considering Green and the Warriors defended Zion Williamson (23 points) even better than they did on Monday. Yet Zion was effective in distributing more (7 assists) and the Pelicans as a whole were better at cashing in, shooting 40 percent from deep after making just five on Monday. They also attacked the basket and drew fouls, exposing the Warriors’ primary weakness. The Pelicans were 18-22 from the line, while the Warriors shot just seven free throws total.
Despite the loss, Andrew Wiggins does deserve a special shoutout for his performance on Tuesday, shooting 10-for-21 from the field with five 3-pointers, and again locking down Brandon Ingram, who scored just 13 points. Wiggins had one of the most important sequences of the game after the Pelicans tied it early in the fourth quarter, when he hit back-to-back 3-pointers, had an assist on a 3-pointer and blocked a shot at the rim to extend the lead to nine points.
Curry was also spectacular, albeit less efficient, going 8-for-20 from deep in 37 minutes. He also made his 300th 3-pointer of the season, the fifth time that’s been achieved in NBA history, four of those done by Curry.
Steph Curry hits his 300th 3-pointer of the season.
This feat has only been achieved five times in NBA history…four times by Steph.
— KNBR (@KNBR) May 5, 2021
Win keeps Pelicans’ waning playoff hopes alive, Warriors probably still okay
The Warriors entered Tuesday’s game four games ahead of the Pelicans in the Western Conference playoff standings, sitting two spots ahead of them in the 8th seed. That lead is back down to three, and though there are just six games left, there remains one more with the Pelicans who would own the tiebreaker if they win. The Pelicans are just two games back of the Spurs for the final spot.
One would think the Warriors would be safe for the play-in tournament, though they will have to continue winning to keep themselves ahead of San Antonio and Memphis. The Grizzlies are currently tied with the Warriors but have played two less games.