Durant torches Pelicans, turnovers crush Warriors

Kevin Durant put the ball through the hoop as much as humanly possible Saturday at Oracle.

Unfortunately for the Warriors, they also put the ball into the New Orleans Pelicans’ hands almost the same amount in their 126-120 loss in their final home game.

This story has been updated with quotes and post-game material from the Warriors’ locker room at Oracle Arena.

Steve Kerr won’t be happy with the 17 total turnovers, but he’ll be even more livid that eight of them came in the fourth quarter with the game on the line. The Pelicans (45-34) turned those fourth quarter turnovers in 15 points, while the Warriors (57-23) added no points off turnovers in the fourth — and that was the game.

Kerr said he liked the effort better, but that it may have led to those turnovers:

“We were just trying too hard. I liked our fight, our guys really came together. I mean Kevin was phenomenal in the second half and he carried us. But it just felt like we were trying a little too hard on plays to create something that wasn’t quite there.”

Durant scored 30 of his 41 points in the second half, banging home iso after iso. That’s possibly the Warriors’ best offense, and one Durant can put to use every time down the court. And with Curry most likely out for the first round of the playoffs, it’s something the Warriors first-round opponent should be very scared of.

That first-round rival could very well end up being the Pelicans, as they entered Saturday in a three-way tie for fifth place in the West and could finish anywhere from the fourth seed to the ninth seed.

Draymond Green said that the uncertainty of their opponent is tough:

“As a basketball fan it’s fun to watch. As a player, kind of not being sure who you’re going to play is a bit tough, especially with the quick turnaround. But that’s the challenge of the playoffs.”

Green almost had an unsavory quadruple-double with 11 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists and seven turnovers and Klay Thompson pitched in 18 points, but didn’t hit a 3 until the fourth quarter.

That wasn’t enough, though as turnovers coupled with lackadaisical defense doomed any chance of Golden State reaching the 60-win mark for the season.

Kerr gave the Warriors a tongue lashing after their 20-point loss to the Pacers, but it looked like it didn’t help much as they fell down big early against the Pelicans.

The offense was fine; it was on the defensive end that the Warriors couldn’t keep up once again. They’ve been bad on that side of the ball recently, over their last five games they have a 108.9 defensive rating, which puts them in the bottom eight in the league during that span.

But they sit at 103.9 on the season, which gives them the eighth-best defensive rating in the league.

Anthony Davis is a load to contain inside, but it was actually his frontcourt mate Nikola Mirotic that gave the Warriors fits. He hit four 3’s in the first half, and ended the game with 28 points and six 3’s.

Durant said the pick-and-roll with Davis is a problem for any team:

“AD is such a great roller in pick-and-roll, and you can’t switch on him because he can score on anybody. Put that out there with shooters all around and Rondo who is a wizard with the ball, that’s what makes them dangerous. That pick-and-roll makes it difficult for us to help in and then they swing the ball to shooters, they spread us out.”

Quinn Cook continued to show his worth, even with the rest of the starting five back. He’s averaged 14.8 points per game once all three of Thompson, Durant and Green returned to the lineup. And he’s scored in double-figures in 13 straight games, showing off the ability to take over as the lead option and being able to play with the Warriors main weapons. And, not just play with them, but produce in a much more limited role.

Cook poured in 21 points and was second to only Durant in points while hitting 5-of-7 from 3. Cook has been blazing from deep, as he’s shooting 52 percent from there over his last five games.

Now the Warriors will have to monitor the standings just as close as the bottom teams in the West to see who their opponent will be. It’s all they can do as they have nothing left to play for the last two games.

Up next

With their last home game behind them, the Warriors now embark on a short road trip to end the season. First up is Phoenix (20-60) before they finish the season in Utah against a Jazz team (46-33) still fighting for home court.

Notes

The Warriors continued their revolving door at the starting center position with Kevon Looney drawing the start Saturday. He would finish with 10 points and six rebounds while JaVale McGee and Zaza Pachulia each received a DNP-CD.


Curtis Uemura is SFBay’s Golden State Warriors beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @CUemura on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of Warriors basketball.