Steph Curry scores 41 and Warriors extend playoff cushion with win over Pelicans

In the first of three meetings in 12 days, the Warriors beat the New Orleans Pelicans 123-108 Monday night at Smoothie King Center.

Stephen Curry scored 41 points, Draymond Green tallied 10 points, 13 rebounds and 15 assists and Andrew Wiggins added 26 points to lead Golden State in a win that essentially assures them a spot in the play-in tournament.

The Warriors (33-32) are now four games ahead of the Pelicans (29-36) in the Western Conference standings and have moved into a tie with Memphis for the No. 8 position in the play-in tournament.

The play-in tournament consists of games between the Nos. 7 and 8 teams, and the Nos. 9 and 10 teams. The winner of the seven-eight game advances to playoffs as the No. 7 seed, while the loser plays the winner of the nine-10 game to determine the final playoff spot in each conference.

Entering Monday’s game, the ninth-place Warriors were three games ahead of 11th-place Pelicans. Such a difference would typically be too significant for New Orleans to overcome with less than two weeks left in the regular season. But each of these three matchups is essentially worth double, given that a New Orleans victory would add to its win column while also adding to the Warriors’ loss column.

After leading by as many as 25 in the second quarter, Golden State gave up an 8-0 run in the final 37 seconds before halftime and saw its lead slashed to six midway through the third quarter. But Curry then scored 15 points in the third quarter to push the lead back to 15 heading into the final frame.

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This was a night in which Curry and Green were in prime form. Curry poured in points efficiently, going 14 for 26 overall, including 8 for 18 from 3-point range. Green, meanwhile, played a superlative game on defense. He broke up several of New Orleans’ actions, recorded three steals and two blocks and made things difficult for Zion Williamson.

Williamson — the league’s most dominant scorer near the basket — still finished with 32 points but shot 50% overall, well below his season average of 61.6%. The rest of the Pelicans shot just 40.9% overall.

With the win, the Warriors showed they can meet a game with such major playoff implications with the urgency it demands. It was just last week that they were blown out by the Dallas Mavericks in a game that would have kept their hopes for the No. 6 seed and the right to avoid the play-in tournament altogether alive.

A loss Monday would have sent Golden State teetering on the edge of the play-in tournament. Instead, the win extends its cushion in the standings. It also established a blueprint for the next two matchups.

Both teams play again Tuesday night in New Orleans and will meet for the final time on May 14 at Chase Center.

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Source:: The Mercury News – Sports


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