Stephen Curry might have put the final dent in the New Orleans Pelicans’ play-in tournament aspirations.
A blowout 123-108 loss at the hands of the Golden State Warriors means that the Pelicans are now three and a half games behind making the play-in tournament. Whereas a win would have reignited the Pels’ hopes until the end of the regular season, this defeat appears to definitively extinguish them.
It was once again a lackluster performance from New Orleans on national television. This bafflingly consistently inconsistent team continues to provide memorable moments. At times, the Pelicans can blow out a championship contender. On other occasions, they are hand-delivering Curry his ninth 40+ point game of the season and letting him make more threes than the entire Pelicans team combined.
The Pelicans weren’t up to scratch for the entire game. At one point in the first quarter, Curry had 17 points to New Orleans’ total of 19. Stan Van Gundy’s squad more or less hung around for most of the game, but it was always a manageable lead for the Warriors.
They were never put under pressure in a must-win game for the Pelicans, which is quite the indictment on a team that often fails to play with the necessary urgency.
The Pelicans will face Golden State again on Tuesday night as part of a back-to-back, but the importance of the contest will have diminished. A win would still be nice, but it looks like it will ultimately prove to be fruitless.
Here are the player grades for the Pels’ loss against the Warriors, starting with my personal MVP:
New Orleans Pelicans vs. Golden State Warriors: Grading the best player
ZION WILLIAMSONBig, New Orleans Pelicans
Nobody had a truly incredible night, but Zion Williamson was the best Pelicans player by some margin.
Williamson tried to keep New Orleans in the game during most of the first half, even if it was to no avail by the end of the night. His stats were impressive and worthy of the NBA x Marvel collaboration. His airball with the smoke trail effect is worth laughing at, but Williamson once again played very well and it’s a shame that he most likely will not experience his first postseason this year.
The Pelicans’ all-star finished with 32 points, eight rebounds, two blocks, and an assist. Golden State deserves some credit for making Williamson work hard for his points, but he closed his night on 50 percent shooting.
But for all his points, Williamson also was not as dominant as we have seen him be. He intermittently failed to convert around the basket, his defense continues to need work, and he had four turnovers. That’s why he gets a B+ rather than going into A territory.