Glory Days: Pelicans Lose Battle to Warriors

Glory Days is a series that takes a look back at the 13 magical games where the New Orleans Pelicans core was healthy. For past games in this series, click here. 

It was a rare occurrence this season when the Pelicans could say that they were playing a team with as many key players missing, but on November 26, the Golden State Warriors went into the game without two key players. Andrew Bogut and Andre Iguodala were not active and the Warriors were forced to start Jermaine O’ Neal in Bogut’s place and Harrison Barnes in Iguodala’s.

Game Flow

The website known as Popcorn Machine does game flows for every NBA game, and these charts are an incredibly useful tool to understanding when runs occurred, who was in when they happened, etc. The explanation here should help understand the chart below. Also, I would recommend clicking on the chart to enlarge it.

GS New Orleans



1st Quarter

The Pelicans and Warriors were playing a tight game until Anthony Davis got his 2nd foul. Davis took a spot on the bench and the Warriors responded by thoroughly outplaying the Pelicans for the rest of the quarter.  The always lethal Ryan Anderson came in for Davis, but his effectiveness was limited due to the stellar defense of Draymond Green.

It was no secret how the Warriors were defending the Pelicans starters: they were sagging off of Jason Smith and Al-Farouq Aminu and clogging the lane to take away Jrue/Gordon drives and Anthony Davis rolls.  Jason Smith made them pay on a few occasions, but the Warriors managed to hold the Pelicans to only 18 points in the first quarter. I’d say their defensive strategy worked just fine.

2nd Quarter

The Pelicans had a couple of defensive lapses and missed a couple of good 3 point looks early in the 2nd, which sort of skewed the results.. because what was happening out there looked good. Tyreke Evans was shredding the Warriors second unit and kicking it out to shooters when they collapsed on him. Ryan Anderson and Anthony Morrow missed a couple of wide open 3s. Can’t fault the process when your players are getting shots in their sweet spots.

The Pelicans wound up scoring a very solid 31 points during the quarter, but their offensive outburst was of relatively small effect because they also allowed the Warriors to score 29. Brian Roberts was on Steph Curry for a brief stint, and Curry would receive his first open looks of the game. And as much as I criticize Roberts’ defense, I don’t think he was defending Curry that badly. For instance, here he fought through elevator doors, but was just a step too late.

The quarter was essentially a wash in terms of the score, but it was important because the Pelicans were able to establish an offensive flow for the first time during the game. That flow would continue in the second half, where the Pelicans really came alive.

3rd Quarter

The Pelicans wasted no time chipping away at the Golden State lead by executing on both sides of the ball. This Jason Smith contest was excellent, as was the way the Pelicans played ICE vs. this Curry pick and roll to kill their offensive flow. This Jrue Holiday steal helped erase what should have been a good Warriors look in transition and gave Anthony Davis an easy oop on the other end. Eric Gordon even got in on the action by stripping O’Neal near the basket.

The offense was running just fine as well, and Anthony Davis started to get going with this basket plus the foul versus David Lee. This Gordon 3 pointer get the Pelicans even for the first time since the 1st quarter. And then this Davis rebound made me lose my mind.

Things got a little out of control after that, with the Pelicans committing a few careless turnovers and giving the Warriors some good looks. But it wasn’t all bad, as there was this Anthony Davis bounce pass to a charging Ryno on the cut. And this Ryno bailout 3 pointer brought the Pelicans back to within 1 point. The Pelicans actually closed the 3rd quarter with a 1 point lead.

4th Quarter

The fourth quarter was a seesaw affair, as the Pelicans and Warriors traded points until the very end of the game. Tyreke Evans started off the Pelicans 4th quarter scoring by gracing us with his patented La-Z-Boy jumper. Anthony Morrow hustled back to steal this intended pass to Marresse Speights and was rewarded with a 3 point opportunity in transition, which he nailed. And the Pelicans continued to take advantage of Warriors turnovers and missed shots, as Jrue Holiday did here with this 3 pointer in transition.

The Pelicans got sloppy on the next few possessions and gave some pretty clean looks to Warriors shooters. Luckily, the Warriors were unable to convert. Unfortunately, the Pelicans sloppy play carried over to offense as well, where Jrue Holiday missed this layup and Tyreke Evans threw this poor pass. Steph Curry reminded everyone that he cannot be given any space on this jumper and the Pelicans committed a mortal sin by allowing a layup on the inbounds pass.

But things got better. The Pelicans missed a WIDE OPEN Anthony Davis in transition but AD got an easy dunk on the feed from Evans. Klay Thompson threw up a dagger 3, but Jrue answered right back with a 3 for the Pelicans. The Warriors would stifle the next few Pelicans possessions, but Anthony Davis had no intention of letting them get away with the game.

The Warriors countered by trying to isolate Jermaine O’Neal in the post versus Anderson, but Ryno held his ground and forced an ugly shot in the paint. The game was there for the taking.

Monty chose not to call a timeout, likely because the Warriors had David Lee in the game and he did not want to let them re-insert Draymond Green into the game. I think this was a wise move. Jrue Holiday milked the clock, sprinted to the basket, and the Warriors collapsed on the driving Jrue and the rolling Davis.. leaving Eric Gordon with this catch and shoot jumper for the corner, WHICH ROLLED AROUND THE RIM AND.. rolled back out.

I remember there being a lot of venom thrown Monty’s way for this play, but you can’t ask for a much cleaner look to end the game. Gordon had made the same exact shot in the Cleveland game, and even if he hadn’t, this was a very makeable shot.

Lineups (courtesy of NBA Media Stats). Click to Enlarge.




Final notes

  • Jrue Holiday had a solid night on offense, but his defense on Curry is what really stood out. Curry struggled to separate from Jrue all night and forced some pretty ill-advised shots. You couldn’t ask for better defense.
  • The Pelicans killed themselves by turning the ball over 16 times (versus 10 for the Warriors). They helped make up for this difference by earning 14 offensive rebounds.
  • Jermaine O’Neal (of all people) killed the Pelicans with a strong game. O’ Neal was 9-12 on the night. Typical.
  • The bench lost the game for the Pelicans. All 5 of the Pelicans starters registered postive +/- and all of the Warriors starting 5 registered negative ones.
  • The Pelicans simply could not get to the line this night and left the game with only 13 free throws.


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