The crowd was rocking. Anthony Davis was making the plays — 23 points through the first three quarters — that had the New Orleans crowd screaming like it was Mardi Gras. It seemed after 36 minutes that it was going to be the Pelican’s night; they were up 20 points entering the final frame, up 17 with six minutes to go. The Pelicans were in command. New Orleans outplayed Golden State most of the night.
But Golden State has Stephen Curry.
The Warriors started to make a little run early in the fourth, chipping away at the lead bit by bit. The clock couldn’t move fast enough for the Pelicans. Then Curry entered the game, and he kept getting space — somehow 16 of Curry’s 29 shot attempts on the night were uncontested (according to the NBA’s SportsVU cameras). He was making plays.
Golden State closed out the game on a 17-5 run but were still down three with 9.6 seconds left in regulation. Then this happened.
Curry missed the first one, but Marreese Speights picked up the offensive board, brought it out to the corner and Curry got another shot.
He wasn’t going to miss that one. The Pelicans had their hearts ripped out on national television.
From there it just had a sense of inevitability. Curry finished the night with 40 points and nine assists, and the Warriors won 123-119. That gives Golden State a commanding 3-0 series lead, they can close the Pelicans out Saturday in New Orleans.
Still, all anybody is talking about is that final play, the shot by Curry.
Pelicans coach Monty Williams said after the game he had told his players to foul on that final play — don’t even let Golden State get off a three to tie it. Foul them and make it a free throw contest. The Pelicans had ample opportunity before both shots and didn’t execute. They didn’t and paid the price.
Basketball games are not won or lost on one play, there were a number of things that cost the Thunder. Such as offensive rebounds. It wasn’t just Speights’ rebound that led to the Curry shot; the Warriors had seven offensive rebounds in the final five minutes. For the game, the Warriors grabbed the offensive rebound on 39.3 percent of their missed shots.
Curry and Klay Thompson were hot at the start of Game 3 but credit the Pelicans for once again being scrappy and fighting through it. New Orleans led by one after 12 minutes then pulled away in the second and third. They were the better team — New Orleans shot 51.1 percent on the night to Golden State’s 40.4.
But it’s about how it ends. The game went to overtime and Curry had seven points in the frame as the Warriors opened on a 9-3 run. Again the Pelicans scrapped to make it interesting, but they could never fully close the gap.
Klay Thompson poured in 28 for Golden State while Draymond Green added 12 points and 10 rebounds. Davis finished with 29 for the Pelicans; Ryan Anderson added 26.
It’s a painful loss for the Pelicans, but the kind that young teams grow and learn from.
For the Warriors, it’s a legendary comeback. It’s also another win when they don’t play their best game. In this round they can get away with that.
Thanks to Stephen Curry.