BY DANIEL GLUSKOTER
Back on the Oracle floor with a chance to wrap up their second round playoff series against the Pelicans following their dominating Game 4 victory in New Orleans, the Warriors once again established their dominance on the way to a 113 -104 victory to win the series in five games.
For the second game in a row, Coach Steve Kerr started his “Hampton 5” death lineup (Curry, Thompson, Durant, Green and Iguuodala), and while the game was much more competitive thru the first half than Sunday’s blow-out in New Orleans, the Warriors scored their 15th consecutive home playoff victory, tying the All-Time NBA record held by the ’90-’91 Chicago Bulls.
Scoring the first 10 points of the second half as part of a 25-4 run to start the third quarter, the Warriors lead swelled to 88-64 midway thru the third, but the pesky Pelicans refused to fold, closing the gap to single digits before finally succumbing after outscoring Golden State 29-18 in the final quarter.
The Warriors now advance to the Western Conference Finals for the fourth consecutive year where they will play the Houston Rockets after a five day rest for both teams. The Rockets finished with a NBA best 65-17 record in the regular season, taking two out of three from the Warriors, but none of the three games saw both teams completely healthy.
Golden State’s performance featured great balance as their Big Four combined for 94 points. Steph Curry led the way with 28 points in 37 minutes of action. It was his longest outing since returning four games ago from a six week absence following his knee injury. Curry went 3-6 from beyond the arc, his 79th consecutive playoff game with a three-point basket, extending the longest streak in NBA history.
Kevin Durant added 24 on 10-18 shooting and Klay Thompson pitched in 23. Golden State also got another solid game from Draymond Green, who scored 19 points to go along with 14 rebounds and nine assists, enabling him to become the first Warrior in franchise history to average a triple double for an entire series (14.8 points, 11.8 rebounds and 10.0 assists). The Warriors improved their record to 26-0 all-time when Green records a triple-double.
Anthony Davis had his best game of the series for the Pelicans, collecting game highs with 34 points and 19 rebounds. Jrue Holiday also put up a triple double. Holiday finished with 27 points along with 10 rebounds and 11 assists.
After the game, Kerr was asked about Curry’s progress since returning to the lineup. “We played him 37 minutes tonight. So the conditioning is absolutely coming. In fact, it’s probably there. If he can play 37 minutes in a playoff game, then I think he’s OK. And now we got about five days till our next game. He looked tired to me after about eight minutes in the third, so I took him out around the 4 minute mark, then we played him the whole fourth I think. It all worked out fine.”
When asked to comment on Green’s performance, Kerr showed no lack of praise. “The guy has huge energy, amazing defense, incredible basketball intellect. He’s a future Hall of Famer. He’s right in his prime right now but this guy, he is the perfect modern-day NBA big: He can guard everybody. He can step out and make threes. He can handle the ball in transition. This is what the NBA has become and you have to have somebody like Draymond to have a good team, so we’re lucky to have him.”
Game 1 of the Conference Finals will be Monday in Houston, with the teams returning to Oakland for Games 3 & 4 at Oracle on May 20th and 22nd. It will be the first time in the Steve Kerr era that the Warriors haven’t had the home court advantage in a series.