Warriors pound Pelicans in season opener
The Warriors open the season with a 19-game home win streak at Oracle Arena.
It dates back to January of last season, and only counts the regular season, but Golden State looked just as dominant as ever in their season-opening 111-95 win over the New Orleans Pelicans Tuesday evening.
Point guard Stephen Curry picked up where he left off, putting together the best scoring performance from a reigning MVP since Kareem Abdul Jabbar in 1972, opening the season with 40 points in 36 minutes.
Curry’s 24-point first quarter paved the way for Golden State, though they had their work cut out in the second quarter.
New Orleans momentarily took the lead with five minutes left in the half, Warriors reserves stalling out and going scoreless for three minutes.
Warriors Interim head coach Luke Walton expected former Warriors assistant and current Pelicans coach, Alvin Gentry, to use more small lineups during the first half.
The opposite happened, something that might have helped during a short span but not through 48 minutes of ball.
Not when Curry is there, Walton praised the consensus best player in the game:
“Steph Curry is unbelievable. He really is. He makes the game seem easy out there. He gets his teammates easy shots, he’s competing on defense. I think we were scoring, but we weren’t doing our defensive coverages.”
Walton thought that the Warriors were a little off. The team was supposed to blitz Pelicans forward Anthony Davis but that didn’t happen. Curry carried Golden State into a better place, and though the Warriors won by 16 points, the team wasn’t on their game.
“We need to play better and we will play better. It’s a long season, but it’s obviously a good start. You just want to get a win and have some good moments.”
Guard Klay Thompson agreed with Curry, but offered a harsher critique, especially of himself:
“We had 20 turnovers and seven of them were mine, so we’ve got to cut that down. Luckily it’s late October and we had that same process last year where we cut down turnovers as the season went on.”
Thompson was emphasized defensively by New Orleans, and they held him to only nine points, with no threes. Thompson was 3-for-8 from the floor, notching three points from the foul stripe, adding four boards and three assists.
Thompson was also whistled five times, as the physical game seemingly got to the fourth-year man from Washington State.
Golden State battled with both sides of streaky play, getting on the good side during the latter moments of the first half, finishing with a 59-49 lead.
Center Andrew Bogut was the only other Warriors player in double figures during the first half besides Curry, and the bench only tallied five more points.
Bogut’s night ended in the third quarter when he caught a nasty blow to the eye, requiring stitches, and Festus Ezeli replaced him, scoring six in six minutes, while the rest of the team tried to play catch up.
Ezeli, in a contract year with a looming payday that could be decided by minutes as a starter, played very well and may have a chance to earn more time as a starter if the team decides to be careful with Bogut.
Bogut was a perfect 6-for-6 with six boards prior to his injury, and was a key contributor through two and a half quarters.
Rebounds were the Warriors saving grace, the team recorded 59 to the Pelicans 33. Not allowing second chance points and playing keep away around their own rim made the difference that doesn’t always show in the box score.
Another element to the Warriors win was rotating defenders on Davis, which held New Orleans’ star to 18 points and six boards, both figures much lower than last year’s average of 24 points per game and 10 boards.