The Golden State Warriors defeated the New Orleans Pelicans 121-116 in game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals.
Stephen Curry returned to the lineup for the first time since he sprained his MCL back in late March. He didn’t start, though. The Warriors went with their same starting lineup from game 1 of Nick Young, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Kevin Durant, and Draymond Green.
Coming off a demoralizing defeat in game 1, the Pelicans decided to go with their same starting lineup of Rajon Rondo, Jrue Holiday, E’Twaun Moore, Nikola Mirotic, and Anthony Davis.
Curry received a standing ovation when he entered the game with about four minutes to go in the first quarter, and he proceeded to hit a 3-pointer on his first offensive possession.
The Warriors ended the quarter on a 7-0 run to cut the deficit to 29-27 despite some cold shooting to begin the game.
The Pelicans weren’t developing much of an offensive rhythm through the first quarter. They were shooting just 38% from the field and were a paltry 2-13 from 3-point range.
20 of the Pelicans 29 first-quarter points came in the paint, and they were outscoring the Warriors on fast-break points 10-3 in the opening quarter.
The Warriors offense looked much more fluid with Curry in the game, which was to be expected when the superstar returned to the lineup.
The Warriors initiated an 8-0 run about midway through the second quarter to take the lead from the Pelicans. The teams went back-and-forth for the rest of the quarter until Thompson hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to give the Warriors a 58-55 lead at halftime.
Holiday led the game with 15 points at the half, and Davis added 14 points of his own to go along with 9 rebounds. The Warriors had four different players in double-digits at halftime. Curry led the team with 12 points, Durant had 11 points with 5 assists, Thompson had 10 points, and Green had 10 points with 6 rebounds and 7 assists.
Neither team shot well from beyond the arc in the first half, but the Warriors managed to shoot 48% from the field. The Warriors assisted on a remarkable 21 out of 25 field goals they made in the first half, although the Pelicans were still outscoring them in fast-break points 20-8 at halftime.
The Pelicans began to get into a rhythm in the third quarter. They went on a 13-2 run to recapture the lead. Things began to get a little chippy towards the end of the quarter. Green and Davis got tangled up after a hard-fought possession and soon after Solomon Hill committed a flagrant one on Iguodala on a fast-break.
Curry had a big quarter, and the Warriors had an 88-86 lead with just one quarter left to play in game 2. The Pelicans scored 54 out of their 86 points through three quarters on shots inside the paint, while the Warriors comparatively had 34 points in the paint.
The Warriors went on an 11-0 run to stretch their lead about midway through the fourth quarter, and they never looked back.
Mirotic fouled out after scoring 18 points and grabbing 9 rebounds. He also swiped 2 steals and provided tenacious energy in his team’s losing effort.
The Warriors would not be denied the victory in Curry’s triumphant return, and the final score was 121-116 as time expired.
The Pelicans went on a quick spurt to reduce the deficit in the final minute and makes things a little interesting, but it ended up being irrelevant to the final outcome.
Three different Pelicans players scored more than 20 points. Davis led them with 25 points. He also led the team with 15 rebounds, had 5 assists, blocked 3 shots, and got a steal as well.
Holiday nearly got a triple-double himself. He finished with 24 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists. Rondo also scored 22 points, handed out 12 assists, hauled in 7 rebounds, and got 5 steals.
Durant led the game with 29 points, 6 rebounds, and 7 assists. Curry finished with 28 points in his first game back, hitting 5 shots from beyond the 3-point line.
Green finished just one rebound away from his second consecutive triple-double. He scored 20 points, grabbed 9 rebounds, dished out 12 assists, swatted 2 blocks, and collected 1 steal.