New Orleans Pelicans: Grades for flat loss vs. Warriors

(Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
(Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) /
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Naji Marshall, New Orleans Pelicans
(Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) /

The New Orleans Pelicans lost for the second time in a month to the Golden State Warriors in a close 122-125 defeat.

This was the epitome of an end-of-the-regular-season game. The Pelicans were playing with nothing at stake but their lottery odds, which is the only real good news coming out of this loss. Stan Van Gundy was once again without five of his main rotation pieces, as Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Steven Adams, and Josh Hart all sat out Friday night’s visit to Golden State because of different injuries.

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As for the Warriors… well, they rested pretty much everyone. Steve Kerr’s team has a decisive game against the Memphis Grizzlies coming up that will determine the eighth seed.

Seeding is crucial in this year’s play-in tournament, meaning that Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, and Andrew Wiggins watched from the bench instead of taking the court. Of course, the injured Klay Thompson, James Wiseman, and Kelly Oubre Jr. were also sidelined.

Aside from the closing minutes, this was predictably a flat game. The Pelicans were down 18 points at the half but eventually rallied back to actually be in a winning position down the stretch. Nickeil Alexander-Walker had a chance to extend the game over the final seconds, but his pull-up three did not go in and the Warriors walked away with the win.

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

B+. . Wing. New Orleans Pelicans. NAJI MARSHALL

Another solid night for Naji Marshall who was essentially given the green light ahead of the Pelicans’ two remaining games.

The former Xavier standout put together a complete performance that culminated in a double-double. Marshall’s 20 points and 13 rebounds against Golden State mean that he becomes just the sixth rookie in Pelicans history to achieve three double-doubles. That’s quite an achievement for someone who went undrafted and was a non-factor in the Pels’ season until Josh Hart’s injury.

Marshall continues to demonstrate why he earned a guaranteed deal just a few weeks ago. He has been genuinely good all season and is an important part of the Pels’ future, albeit as a bench piece.