Warriors rise past Pelicans in gritty Game 2

The Warriors battled for a Game 2 victory Monday night, beating the Pelicans 97-87 and taking a 2-0 lead in the first-round series.

Tied to start the fourth quarter, it was Klay Thompson‘s 26-point performance and Draymond Green‘s intensity that prevailed.

Thompson said he wasn’t trying to do anything out of the ordinary when he went off for 14 points in the final quarter, adding that his shots came with the flow of the offense:

“I wasn’t going out there trying to force anything. I was just trying to get a great shot if I was open. I was moving well without the ball and moving from side-to-side and they happened to catch me in rhythm and I do what I do best.”

Anthony Davis was admittedly anxious at the beginning of Game 1. But his nerves were obviously settled Monday as he and Eric Gordon combined for 21 of the Pelicans 28 first-quarter points.

New Orleans swarmed in the opening minutes, taking a double-digit lead and slowing the Warriors from their usual bullet-like speed.

Pelicans coach Monty Williams said he warned his team about Golden State’s prowess and added that his team would need to do extra work in order to match the energy of the Warriors.

Davis took his coach’s words to heart and told SFBay he felt more comfortable on the court than in Game 1. He said he expected to only be more settled in the next game:

“We were definitely calm and collected, and ready to come out and play…Hopefully we can come out with some wins at home and try to make this a series.”

His words resonated with the entire Pelicans roster, who battled the Warriors on both ends of the floor using every weapon they had.

Steve Kerr sent in his second-unit subs, and in the second quarter it was a shootout between two unlikely role-players — Norris Cole vs. Leandro Barbosa.

Barbosa, complimented by Marreese Speights, fought to cut the Pelicans lead to single digits and mid second quarter the Splash Brothers stepped back onto the court rested and ready to make a statement.

A three from Stephen Curry in the final seconds of the first half gave the Warriors their first lead since the opening seconds of the game at 55-52.

The third quarter was tough defense and poor shooting from both teams, and the Warriors for just the sixth time in the 2014-15 campaign went into a fourth quarter with the game tied, 71-71.

Then Green pumped edge, resolve and grit back into the game, hitting a three with 9:59 left to play before strutting down the court, pounding his chest and yelling.

Green went on a tear, picking up steals, defending several positions, throwing lobs and giving the Warriors a much-needed spark and an 81-73 lead.

Kerr told SFBay he has come to expect the explosive energy that Green brings to games, and that his burst in the final quarter was huge:

“That was big … Draymond is always the guy who has the passion and the intensity that sort of lifts us up when we need it, and he’s also a great playmaker at both ends of the floor.”

With Green off the floor and Curry’s shot cold, the Pelicans were able to cut the lead back to one point.

But Thompson put the Warriors on his back and scored 14 fourth-quarter points, leading Golden State to a Game 2 victory and 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.

The Warriors head to New Orleans for the next two games of the series starting with Game 3 on Thursday.

Notes

Golden State owns a 2-0 series advantage in the playoffs for the first time since the 1989 Western Conference First Round against Utah. … Golden State improved to 42-0 this season when holding its opposition to fewer than 100 points. … The Warriors’ reserve unit, which scored 12 points in Game 1, outscored New Orleans’ bench 25-17. … Draymond Green his second conservative double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds, giving him back-to-back double-doubles in the playoffs for the second time of his career. … Leandro Barbosa led the Warriors’ second unit with 12 points, his highest scoring output in the playoffs since May 25, 2010 with the Phoenix Suns against the L.A. Lakers.


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