It was a packed house at the Smoothie King Center, as the New Orleans Pelicans were hosting their first playoff home game since 2011. A sea of red shirts flooded the arena, ready for Game 3 versus the first-seeded Golden State Warriors.
However, it was the Splash Brothers who got off to a fast start. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson combined to score the first 15 of 17 points for the Warriors to start the quarter, going 5 of 5 from three-point distance. The Warriors went up, 17-9, but Anthony Davis and the Pelicans weathered the storm to come back and take a one-point first quarter lead.
Davis logged 11 first quarter points to lead the way. Two-time champion Norris Cole came off the bench and continued to compile points for the Pelicans who extended their lead to 16.
Steve Kerr was upset with his team’s ball movement. The Warriors were stagnant for most of the first half, jacking up long threes with very little sharing of the ball. The Warriors defense was also non-existent, as the Pelicans shot an impressive 59.6 percent from the floor.
The thrashing continued in the second half. The Pelicans soon stretched their lead to 20 points. Ryan Anderson, who combined for seven points in the first two games of the series, poured in 26 points on 10 of 14 shooting tonight. He caught fire early in the fourth, hitting tough, corner jumpers over the hard-nosed Warriors defense.
With 6:01 remaining in the game, New Orleans was up 17, 101-84, looking like they were going to grab their first win of the series. But the lead did not withstand the Warriors’ late game rally.
With Draymond Green gobbling down rebounds and Stephen Curry knocking down threes, the Warriors crawled back into the game. All of sudden it was a three-point game with nine seconds left, Warriors ball.
Kerr called a play for Curry who jacked up a 25-foot three point jumper with five seconds left, but missed. Thankfully, Marreese Speights picked up a huge offensive rebound and found Curry in the corner, and he nailed a 24-foot corner three pointer in the face of Anthony Davis to tie the game and send it to overtime.
The Warriors imposed their will early in overtime, taking a six-point lead, but the Pelicans did not go down without a fight. Tyreke Evans hit a driving layup, and Ryan Anderson knocked down a three to cut Golden State’s lead to one.
With 24 seconds left and the Warriors still up one, Eric Gordon took up a questionable three-pointer and missed. Stephen Curry put home four consecutive free throws down the stretch to seal the game.
Curry ended the game with 40 large ones, including nine assists and five rebounds. He did not have his best shooting night, going 10 of 29 from the floor, but he hit clutch threes.
Klay Thompson added 28 points, six rebounds, and put in six three-pointers. Draymond Green posted an enormous double-double with 12 points and 17 rebounds to go along with five assists and three steals but fouled out late in overtime on a questionable over-the-back call.
Anthony Davis led the Pelicans with 29 points, 15 rebounds, three assists, three blocks, and two steals. New Orleans bench was sensational tonight, combining for 58 points to outscore Golden State’s bench. Cole pitched in 16 points, and Jrue Holiday, who was questionable coming into the contest, put in 10 points and four assists in just 17 minutes.
The Pelicans still shot over 50 percent to end the game, while the Warriors were at 40 percent shooting, but costly turnovers and poor execution late in the game sealed New Orleans’ faith. New Orleans also gave up 22 offensive rebounds, allowing the Warriors to get many second chance opportunities.
“We didn’t execute the game plan. We were supposed to foul,” Pelicans head coach Monty Williams said on Curry’s game-tying three possession.
Tonight was New Orleans' best opportunity to push the Warriors in this series, especially since they had a 20-point lead heading into the fourth quarter, but Golden State mustered the third best comeback in playoff history to take a commanding 3-0 series lead.
No teams have come back from a 3-0 hole. 110 teams have tried, and all have failed.
Game 4 will be on Saturday at 8 pm EST on ESPN in New Orleans where the Warriors will look to complete the sweep and move on to the next round.