By RJ Saunders
New Orleans, LA — The Golden State Warriors are a team that understands games such as Friday night’s Game Three will happen — all it did was show that the Warriors have off shooting nights like any other team. However, they believed that maybe the New Orleans Pelicans were feeling themselves a little bit too much after the win they took in Game Three.
So, Golden State, lead by the magnificent play of forward Kevin Durant, had to remind the Pelicans why they are the defending champs. Golden State broke out the old whooping stick, beating the Pelicans 116-92 on Sunday afternoon, giving them a 3-1 lead over the Pelicans and setting up for a potential series-clinching Game Five back in Oakland.
Golden State head coach Steve Kerr went with his third lineup change in the series, inserting Andre Iguodala to start the game. This would be the first time Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Igoudala, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson would start a game together, and they would dub themselves as the “Hampton’s Five” because of the fact that it was those four guys who went to the Hamptons to sell Kevin Durant on coming to Golden State.
This group came out with guns blazing. The starters combined for 27 points on 50 percent shooting and hit five three-pointers in the first quarter. In addition, as a team, the Warriors shot 60 percent from the field and had 12 assists on 15 field goals with only one turnover. And this would only become the beginning of the end for New Orleans.
Golden State made it extremely tough for the Pelicans to run any sort of offense as they jumped passing lanes with ease, causing New Orleans to turn the ball over a grand total of 19 times in the game.
The Warriors didn’t do too many things wrong in in Game 4. In fact, they did a much better job of taking care of the ball and only had a couple turnovers in the second quarter. Even though Golden State overall shot the ball well, there was a stretch where they went without making a single three-point shot in six tries and only went to the free throw line once. In addition, Green picked up his first technical foul in these playoffs, giving the Pelicans’ fan a little more to cheer about. However, it wouldn’t derail the Warriors going into the second half.
Golden State only improved its level of play in the third and fourth periods as its starters finished the game combining for 88 points on 45 percent shooting and hit 11 threes. However, it would be the persuaded player to joined the Warriors last year, Durant, that would give the butt whooping to New Orleans personally. He finished with 38 points, nine rebounds, and five assists and was absolutely unfair while he did his thing.
Whichever way that the Pelicans defenders wanted it, that’s how Durant was going to give it to them. Inside, outside, mid-range, posting up, Durant made sure to remind the Pelicans why he’s the second-best player in the NBA. In addition, he made the Pelicans feel ashamed of themselves that they would put 6-foot-four-inch Jrue Holiday on him… as if Holiday would affect his shot somehow.
Much like the Warriors did in the previous game, Sunday night the Pelicans were ice cold shooting (36 percent) from the field and 15 percent from downtown. Clearly there were a very different team than they were in Game Three. The best part of their game percentage wise was they shot 80 percent from the free throw line.
New Orleans didn’t move with much purpose, they made little to no cuts and forced up a lot of shots. It seemed that they were trying to respond too quickly to the hot start the Warriors made in the first half, and that simply played into the Warriors’ hand. New Orleans never responded at any point of the ball game; they would only get colder with each shot they took.
The Pelicans didn’t just lose on Sunday, they got punched in the mouth by Mike Tyson. The defending champions simply took New Orleans’ heart and will probably make quick work of the Pelicans in Game Five. New Orleans felt that getting physical and trying to play mind games with Golden State would work in their favor. However, it honestly did nothing but wake up the sleeping giant.
And because of that, New Orleans, whoever Golden State faces in the Western Conference Finals and possibly the NBA Finals… will have to suffer the consequences. Thanks a lot, New Orleans.
Game 5 of the series, which also is a close out game for Golden State is set for Tuesday, May 8 back in Oakland.