Pelicans power past Warriors to trim series deficit

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LOS ANGELES, May 5, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – The New Orleans Pelicans, energized by a return to their home court, dominated the reigning NBA champion Golden State Warriors 119-100 Friday to narrow the gap in their second-round playoff series.

Anthony Davis scored 33 points with 18 rebounds and four steals and Pels point guard Rajon Rondo dished out 21 assists to keep the New Orleans offense clicking.

Driving and dunking, Davis helped New Orleans out-score Golden State 54-36 in the paint.

The Pelicans also drained 14 three-pointers as they whittled the deficit to 2-1 in their best-of-seven Western Conference series.

The Pelicans will have a chance to even things up when they host game four on Sunday.

“We just did what we were supposed to do,” Davis said. “Of course we didn’t want to go down 0-3 but we got our big one tonight and now we’ll try to get ready for Sunday.”

Warriors coach Steve Kerr wasn’t surprised to see the Pelicans respond after dropping the first two games in Oakland.

“On their home floor, down 2-0, this is what you expect,” Kerr said of the Pelicans’ intensity. “Their defense was great, they were the aggressors. I thought they brought the necessary force to the game on their home floor.”

New Orleans drained 10 three-pointers in the first 24 minutes, leading by as many as 15 en route to a 62-56 halftime margin.

Jrue Holiday helped set the tone, scoring 11 of his 21 points in the first quarter.

“You always shoot better at home,” Davis said. “Guys made shots in shootaround this morning and it carried over. When you’re back at home and the crowd’s behind you, you play with a lot more confidence.”

Warriors star Stephen Curry, back in the starting lineup after coming off the bench in his return from a knee injury in game two, mustered only three points in the opening quarter, when sharp-shooter Klay Thompson was held scoreless.

Thompson scored 20 of his 26 points in the second quarter, but finished making just nine of his 22 attempts from the field.

Kevin Durant added 22 points and Curry finished with 19 points on six-of- 19 shooting for the Warriors.

“Game two is always the hardest when you come back from injury,” Kerr said of Curry’s struggles. “He didn’t look as sharp with his movement. Obviously he didn’t make his shots, but more than that it was just about the energy, the legs. But that’ll come.”

Kerr pulled his stars and emptied his bench with the Warriors trailing 114-89 with 4:59 remaining.

But even with the game seemingly in hand, Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry admitted he didn’t feel secure.

“They’re a scary team,” Gentry said of the Warriors. “You just never feel comfortable. Even when he took his guys out, I was like, nah, lets play two more minutes before we take the guys out. Because you’re just never comfortable with that (Warriors) team.”