Golden State’s Stephen Curry caught fire before the lights went out in Smoothie King Arena Monday night in New Orleans, however the short-handed Warriors did not have enough gas to outlast a boisterous Pelicans team on the second night of a back-to-back.
The Pelicans were not about to let the Warriors come out and blitz them on their home floor the same way they had the night previous. And yet the Warriors seemed ready for the increased intensity from their opponent.
New Orleans Pelicans’ Lonzo Ball, who had missed 15 of 18 from the field just 24 hours prior, would be in no such slump Tuesday night, and was knocking them down from range early and often.
It felt like the kind of evening where Stephen Curry was going to have to save the Warriors, just a night after he was awarded the NBA’s Player of the Month for April, and it seemed like he just might play Superman once more.
Steph’s first three of the game was his 300th of the season, and he finished the first quarter with 15 points on four-of-seven from three. Steph was getting some silly shooter’s rolls for buckets to fall in the first, and he never really stopped rolling, finishing the game with 37.
30— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) May 5, 2021
(this season alone) pic.twitter.com/TDblzPhkAp
The matchup was close throughout the first two quarters, with neither team able to take control. The Pelicans led by two points after the first, and their lead was reduced to one by the end of the half.
Zion Williamson did what he always does, imposing his will in the paint and up around the glass on both ends of the floor, with Draymond Green doing everything he could to contain the one-of-a-kind big man.
As the Warriors began to pull away slightly in the third, with Steph knocking down three buckets and two three-pointers and Wiggins chipping in a three of his own to extend the Warrior lead to six, Curry caught a pass from Juan Toscano-Anderson and began to hoist from the hash mark as all of the lights in the arena went out.
New way of defending Steph Curry... turn the lights off 😂 pic.twitter.com/ia9Fp5hSQ7— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) May 5, 2021
Twitter was up in flames over the incident, with many believing this new method of defense to be the only way to stop Steph. Others, however, likened it to the 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII, where the lights went out and seemed to sway the momentum in the championship game.
Even Steph likened the experience to that night in 2013, telling reporters after the game, “It’s a weird situation because we were flowing a little bit, and I guess after that, it was kind of a rough offensive situation... [The stoppage] wasn’t as long as that one that happened in the Super Bowl that one year, but it was kinda weird just in general.”
However, the Pelicans would not fold, and seemed to just be able to outlast the Warriors’ onslaught long enough, throwing more bodies at Golden State down the stretch. The Dubs have been playing with just eight men on the roster for the majority of this road trip, due to injuries and COVID protocols, and it finally caught up to them.
With the game tied at 100 with less than a minute to go, the Pelicans were able to run the type of sets and get to the spots they needed to, whereas the Warriors seemed a half a step behind. Lonzo Ball hit a clutch 18-foot step back and knocked down some free throws, and the Warriors were not able to convert on some of their final plays.
"Clearly, we were tired in the fourth," Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said. "Give New Orleans credit. They made the plays that they had to, to win."
Steph Curry however, downplayed the fatigue, saying both teams played the same amount of minutes in the same back to back.
"The guys on the other side played the same minutes last night," Curry said in his postgame Zoom conference. "That can't be an excuse at all."
However, playing the same minutes with eight versus 12 is a completely different story, in the way you are able to balance them out more evenly across players and get different guys more rest.
When asked if the Warriors, who have two open roster slots available currently, will look to make any additions in the coming days or weeks with just six pivotal home games left to play in the season, neither Kerr nor Curry were coy about the potential to go after the right player and add to their depth.
When asked about it post game, Kerr said, “I’ll talk to Bob [Myers, Warriors General Manager] about that when we get back and we’ll see if that’s an option.”
Steph echoed the sentiment, saying, “If it makes sense and it can help us, absolutely.”
The loss is one of the toughest to swallow, as the Warriors really can’t lose any more games this season, but there is something to be said for the character and intensity the players showed over the past two nights. Where they have dropped games all year due to a lack of effort or professionalism, they seemed to have finally eclipsed that hump. Keeping their level high will be instrumental in finishing the season where they want to and making a little push into the playoffs this year.
The Warriors return home to Chase Center Thursday night to host the Oklahoma City Thunder at 7PM PST as they tip-off a six-game homestand to finish off the regular season.
Top Image: Sean Gardner/Getty Images