Late in the second quarter, the New Orleans Pelicans had a 20-point lead, Draymond Green was on the brink of ejection, and the Golden State Warriors had TK turnovers. In other words, they had the Pelicans right where they wanted them.
The Warriors outscored the Pelicans 74-46 in the second half to stun the team who would have been their play-in opponent if the playoffs started this morning. It was a combination of hot three-point shooting, greater defensive intensity, and letting New Orleans throw wild and crazy passes instead of them.
Steph Curry led the Warriors with 39 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists to lead the Warriors’ furious comeback, including a dagger of a “Night Night” three with 3:20 to go, which gave Golden State a ten-point lead.
STEPH IS NOT FROM THIS PLANET pic.twitter.com/zou7BY1ol2— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) March 29, 2023
Just before that, he had a huge rebound of his own miss and a beauty of a no-look pass to Jordan Poole for a big triple.
Draymond Green was involved in two dustups in 20 seconds of game play in the second quarter. First, he game Brandon Ingram a hard foul on a drive, and the two were assessed double technicals after a near-altercation. After video review, Green’s foul was upgraded to a flagrant.
Draymond x Brandon Ingram.— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) March 29, 2023
It was Green’s 17th technical of the season, and if he gets an 18th, he’ll be suspended for another game. Luckily, he avoided a second technical and an ejection a few seconds later, when he plowed into Herb Jones for an offensive foul. Ever since the 2016 playoffs, Green has struggled to control his feet whenever he jumps, or falls, or gets frustrated with an opponent, so how was he to know he’d end up kicking at Jones multiple times?
In games like this, Green plays with an edge. And if he doesn’t get ejected, he often inspires his team to wake up. This time, he stayed in the game, finishing with five fouls and 12 assists.
The Warriors were the aggressors after halftime. Donte DiVincenzo opened the second half with a dunk and an and-one, Klay Thompson hit a three-pointer, and suddenly the lead was single digits. And this time, it was New Orleans getting committing flagrants, with C.J. McCollum delivering a forearm to DiVincenzo fighting through a screen.
After a back-and-forth quarter, Curry caught fire at the end, sinking three triples in the final 1:37, helped by two big offensive rebounds by Kevon Looney.
Loon put in work to get Steph another shot pic.twitter.com/ucC2nIBkgT— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) March 29, 2023
The third quarter ended with a steal by Gary Payton II, leading to a dunk by Poole.
Look at GP2's reaction in the background pic.twitter.com/Vsdm1eJvTg— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) March 29, 2023
Then in the 4th quarter, two of the Warriors young scorers took over the game. Poole and Jonathan Kuminga scored 21 straight Warriors’ points bracketing an 16-4 run that gave the Warriors a seven-point lead with five-and-a-half minutes to go. Poole finished with 21 points, while Kuminga had 13, and they finished +16 and +17, respectively. Kuminga didn’t miss a shot and played almost as many minutes as Draymond.
Klay Thompson was 5-11 from distance for 17 points. DiVincenzo’s big third quarter led him to 13 points, and Looney finished with eight rebounds, six of them offensive.
For New Orleans, Ingram had 26 points, eight rebounds and seven assists - but six turnovers. Trey Murphy had 21, McCollum had a quiet 15 points, and Jonas Valanciunas flirted with a triple-double but couldn’t handle the small ball Warriors in the second half.
Golden State moves a game and a half ahead of New Orleans and into sixth place, one game behind the fourth-place Suns. They play again Friday at home against the San Antonio Spurs.