If Steph Curry keeps playing the way he has been, the Golden State Warriors might not just qualify for the Western Conference play-in tournament.
They might stick around the playoffs for a while.
Curry has scored 30 or more points in 16 of the last 18 games. That includes his NBA-leading ninth 40-plus scoring game when he recorded 41 as the Warriors beat the host New Orleans Pelicans 123-108 on Monday.
Golden State (33-32) moved past Memphis into the eighth spot in the West going into a rematch against the Pelicans (29-36) on Tuesday in New Orleans.
“We obviously needed to come down here and get at least one to hold them off, otherwise they’re breathing down our necks,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “We’ve got bigger sights ahead. We want to avoid that nine, ten spot and get into the seven, eight spot so that we have two cracks at winning one. That’s a big deal. That’s what our focus is.”
Curry scored 17 points as the Warriors took a 39-21 lead at the end of the first quarter. Golden State led by as many as 25 points in the second quarter before the Pelicans cut the deficit to 12 at halftime.
New Orleans cut the deficit to six points during the third quarter, but Curry scored 15 points in the period as the Warriors extended their advantage to 95-80 at the end of the third quarter.
Golden State coasted in the fourth quarter and Curry made 14-of-26 field goals, including 8-of-18 3-pointers.
“It was nice to understand the importance of the game and then go out and perform the way we expect to,” Curry said. “On both ends of the floor, focused, intensity — you still feel like you can play better, but I think we enjoyed what we did tonight and the level that we were at for the majority of the game, and it showed. Everybody contributed.”
Andrew Wiggins scored 26, Juan Toscano-Anderson had 14 points, Jordan Poole 11 and Draymond Green added 10 points, 15 assists and 13 rebounds.
Zion Williamson scored 32 points to lead five Pelicans in double figures, but they never climbed out of the hole they dug in the first quarter.
“The game was basically decided in the first quarter,” coach Stan Van Gundy said. “After that, there were runs both ways. We were just in too big of a hole. It was a frustrating night, disappointing night. We just didn’t play anywhere near well enough to beat that team.”
The Warriors made 17 of 44 (.386) 3-pointers and the Pelicans made 5 of 25 (.200).
“We’re in that lucky situation where we get to play them (Tuesday), so we don’t have to wait a couple games or wait until we see them next,” Williamson said. “We play them right here again, so I think what we do is going to show what kind of character we have as a team.”
Tuesday’s game is New Orleans’ second-to last home game. The Pelicans begin a five-game road trip on Friday at Philadelphia before finishing the regular season at home against the Lakers on May 16.
–Field Level Media
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