Banged-up contenders clash as Warriors face Pelicans
Two teams battling in the Western Conference playoff race while waiting for injured All-Stars to return go head-to-head Friday night when the New Orleans Pelicans and Golden State Warriors duel in San Francisco.
Despite playing at a site at which the Warriors have gone 26-7 this season, the Pelicans will enjoy a scheduling advantage over Golden State for the third consecutive time this season.
New Orleans swept a pair of home games over the Warriors in November, with Golden State having been on the second night of a road back-to-back both times. The Pelicans were idle the day before each of those contests, just as they were on Thursday while the Warriors were posting a 115-91 win over the visiting Los Angeles Clippers.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr chose to rest Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins and Draymond Green in both previous meetings -- a 114-105 loss on Nov. 4 and a 128-83 drubbing on Nov. 21.
Jordan Poole had 20 and 26 points to lead Golden State in the losses, while Jonathan Kuminga went for 18 in each.
The Warriors go into their latest matchup with New Orleans after a come-from-behind performance against the Clippers.
Golden State again figures to be without Curry (knee) and Wiggins (personal), and they were missing Green (knee) on the second night of a back-to-back last week. But Thompson played both ends of last week's coupling and exploded for 42 points, making 12 3-pointers, in a 116-101 home win over the Houston Rockets on the second night.
Because of the one-sided finish Thursday, Green was pulled after 29 minutes, increasing the chances of him facing the Pelicans as Golden State seeks to complete a 5-0 homestand.
"Four wins in a row. That's significant," Kerr said after the victory over the Clippers. "We've held our serve here so far at home. Hopefully we'll have Steph coming back soon, so things are looking up."
Curry, who has missed the past 10 games with a partially torn ligament in his left leg, reportedly could return as early as Sunday, when Golden State visits the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Pelicans got to watch the Warriors' win over the Clippers from the comfort of their San Francisco hotel rooms. New Orleans flew into town on Thursday after a 121-110 win at Portland the night before.
The victory was just the Pelicans' eighth in 26 games since Zion Williamson (hamstring) last played on Jan. 2. New Orleans hopes to get the star back on the court after a checkup next week.
Brandon Ingram stole the show on CJ McCollum's homecoming night with a 40-point performance against the Trail Blazers. McCollum chipped in with 24 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.
New Orleans prevailed without Jose Alvarado (tibia) and Larry Nance Jr. (ankle), both of whom aren't expected back until mid-month at the earliest.
Pelicans coach Willie Green recognized he is going to have to get more of the same from Ingram if his team is going to stay alive in the tight Western playoff chase.
"On one of the biggest stages, which is a nationally televised game, he comes out and dominates," Green said. "That's what we need from him."
The Warriors and Pelicans complete their season series with another game in San Francisco on March 28.
--Field Level Media
Updated March 3, 2023