Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr likes to say his team teeters on “explosive and careless” basketball, following an astonishing play with one that is perplexing.
Kerr saw both sides Monday night in Oakland.
And the better half was just good enough to defend the home court.
Klay Thompson scored 26 points, Stephen Curry had 22 points and six assists and the Warriors regrouped from an early deficit to beat the New Orleans Pelicans 97-87 and take a 2-0 lead in the first-round NBA playoff series.
“We still get excited at times and do some crazy things. I kind of like the fact that we walk that line,” Kerr said. “It’s what makes us who we are.”
The top-seeded Warriors fell behind by 13 points in the first quarter after a strong start by Anthony Davis and Eric Gordon quieted an announced sellout crowd of 19,596 wearing golden yellow shirts. But a big burst before halftime pushed the Warriors ahead, and defense did the rest in the closing moments to put away the pesky Pelicans.
Game 3 of the best-of-7 series is Thursday in New Orleans.
Davis had 26 points and 10 rebounds, and Gordon scored 23 points for the Pelicans who played with more poise and passion than in the series opener.
“We’re playing the best team in the league and we’re fighting tooth and nail,” Pelicans coach Monty Williams said. “Our guys are grouping up on the fly.”
The Warriors were just better when it mattered most.
Golden State turned up the NBA’s top-rated defense late, holding the Pelicans to 35 points in the second half. New Orleans shot just 37.8 for the game.
Davis pulled the Pelicans within one in the final minutes before Green and center Andrew Bogut – Golden State’s defensive stoppers – propelled the Warriors to another spurt. Thompson converted a running bank shot over Gordon to start a three-point play, and Bogut followed with a two-handed slam to give Golden State a 97-86 lead with 1:02 left.
The Warriors have won 20 straight games and 41 of 43 at home this season. Their last loss at Oracle Arena came against Chicago in overtime on Jan. 27.
New Orleans shook of all those marks – and all the pregame chatter – to nearly pull off a playoff surprise.
Williams riled up the Warriors’ vocal fan base before the morning shootaround, saying the decibel level at Oracle Arena might not be legal. Williams later said he meant it more as a compliment and didn’t mean to suggest the Warriors were breaking any rules.Fans seemed to pounce on Williams’ words. Chants of “War-ri-ors!” drowned out the Pelicans during pregame introductions.
Bulls 91, Bucks 82
Jimmy Butler set a playoff career-high for the second straight game with 31 points, and Chicago beat visiting Milwaukee for a 2-0 lead in their first-round series.
After scoring 25 points in Game 1, Butler trumped that with another terrific performance. He was at his best down the stretch, scoring 14 in the fourth quarter.
Chicago’s Derrick Rose scored all his 15 points in the second half after dominating in the opener.
Pau Gasol added 11 points and 16 rebounds and Mike Dunleavy Jr. scored 12 points for the third-seeded Bulls.
Game 3 is Thursday at Milwaukee.
Khris Middleton led the sixth-seeded Bucks with 22 points, and Michael Carter-Williams had 12.
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