Warriors use big second quarter to pull away, rout Pelicans
By JANIE McCAULEY
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) Kevin Durant and Draymond Green ignited a brilliant second quarter with their defense and all-out hustle plays, then Golden State got rolling in transition and Oracle Arena started rocking the way it does this time of year.
The defending champions are dominating again, and now Stephen Curry is ready to rejoin the mix and make them that much better.
Durant had 26 points and 13 rebounds, Green dazzled all over the floor with his fourth career postseason triple-double, and the Golden State Warriors thoroughly overmatched the New Orleans Pelicans for a 123-101 win in Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinals Saturday night.
Green finished with 16 points, 15 rebounds, 11 assists, three steals and two blocks and just with his hustle and energy helped the defending champions pull away with a superb, decisive second quarter.
"If we can push the tempo and try to get stuff in transition that's big for us, so that was key and obviously that starts with stops," Green said.
Now, they likely get Curry back for Game 2 on Tuesday night and all that he brings - even if in a limited role initially.
Anthony Davis had 21points and 10 rebounds, scoring 10 in the first quarter before having a tougher time generating shots the rest of the way to finish 9 for 20. Jrue Holiday was held to 4-for-14 shooting and 11 points.
Golden State again played without two-time MVP Curry, who has been sidelined since March 23 with a sprained left knee. Coach Steve Kerr called it "very likely" Curry would play Game 2 in the best-of-seven series.
"We've adjusted to life without him. Hopefully he comes back Tuesday but we still have to have the same mindset if he isn't," Klay Thompson said. "Even if he does come back, it's natural human emotion to be kind of relaxed because we have so much production coming back in our lineup but that's going to be a test for us just to put that away in our minds and just focus on the task at hand and not depend on Steph to save the day. He's done it plenty of times but we have a very deep team, playmakers all around."
Thompson, who led Golden State with 27 points, hit back-to-back 3-pointers late in the first half that made it 76-48. But New Orleans ended the second on a 7-0 run and Darius Miller's 73-foot heave at the halftime buzzer counted, getting the Pelicans within 76-55 at the break. They hit another buzzer-beater to end the third but by then it was way too late.
Rajon Rondo had nine points and dished out 11 assists for New Orleans.
"Well, that didn't go as planned ," Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said.
Once Golden State got going in transition, the crowd became deafening and the Pelicans couldn't keep pace - with tempo being something the Warriors know is key this series.
"It was probably the loudest I've heard Oracle all year," Kerr said.
Davis, who averaged 33 points, 12 rebounds and 2.8 blocks in a first-round sweep of Portland, made 5 of 7 shots in the opening period. The weeklong layoff hurt, Gentry said.
Green has been brilliant on the boards as Golden State keeps taking its defense up a level, and the Warriors improved to 26-0 when he has a triple-double, 4-0 in the postseason. He had games of 19 and 18 rebounds in the final two matchups of a five-game series with San Antonio in the first round.
"The bottom line is he almost had a triple-double by halftime. That's not a good situation for us," Gentry said.
Nick Young started at forward for the Warriors while 2015 NBA Finals MVP Andre Iguodala remained in the starting lineup in place of Curry as Golden State won a franchise-record 13th straight postseason home game.
The Warriors swept the Pelicans in the only other playoff meeting between the franchises in the 2015 first round as Golden State went on to capture its first championship in 40 years.
Golden State had its highest scoring postseason first half as well as second quarter. The 76 points topped 73 against Phoenix on May 4, 1994, while 41 in the second bested 40 scored against Utah on May 11, 2007.
Golden State shot 13 for 20 in the second, making four 3s and 11 of 14 free throws.
As usual, Curry insisted he "feels great and he's ready to go," said Kerr, who is encouraged his superstar point guard feels so good.
"Just made the decision based on giving him the extra few days and the fact he only scrimmaged yesterday," Kerr said. "You've been out five weeks and we're playing in the playoffs, I don't think one scrimmage is enough, even though he feels great, he wants to play and pleaded his case. "
Curry returned to full practice with contact Thursday and only scrimmaged 5 on 5 for the first time Friday, and Kerr prefers that Curry get additional on-court time at full speed Sunday.
Pelicans: The Pelicans' 126-120 win April 7 in Oakland snapped a 10-game losing streak to the Warriors. "We approach the game as if everybody's washed their hands of everything that has happened," Gentry said. ... Gentry received a technical at the 8:43 mark of the first quarter. ... The Pelicans shot 7 for 23 in the second. ... New Orleans surrendered 110 or more points in the last 11 regular-season games against Golden State.
Warriors: Green topped Tom Gola's three playoff triple-doubles for most in franchise history. ... Young, who played 21 minutes, made a 3 on his first shot and another late in the game on his second attempt. ... Golden State has won 25 of the last 27 meetings overall vs. the Pelicans. ... Jay-Z and Beyonce sat courtside.
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Updated April 29, 2018