OAKLAND, CA - OCT 31: Forward Draymond Green #23 of the Golden State Warriors blocks a shot by E'twain Moore #55 of the New Orleans Pelicans the second quarter of the game on October 31, 2018 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. (Chris Victorio - Special to S.F. Examiner)

Draymond Green locks down the defensive end in Golden State Warriors’ win over New Orleans

By C.J. Peterson
Special to S.F. Examiner

OAKLAND — As he left the floor midway through the fourth quarter, Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green was met by a standing ovation from Oracle Arena. Only seconds before, Green had helped force three New Orleans Pelicans turnovers, after being called for a blocking foul while attempting to draw a charge on Julius Randle.

It hasn’t been a smooth start for Green. After various ailments forced him to miss 12 games last season, a bothersome knee limited him to three games in the preseason. Over the first eight games of 2018-19, Green gradually regained his conditioning, and on Wednesday, against the second-highest scoring offense in the league, he finally looked like the player who won the 2016-17 NBA Defensive Player of the Year.

“I’m pretty sure he woke up this morning that way” said Warriors forward Kevin Durant. “The moment he wakes up on game day, he’s going to display that energy.”

As the bona fide defensive anchor for Golden State, Green assisted in the containment of a perennial MVP candidate Anthony Davis, as the Warriors opened a three-game homestand with a 131-121 win over New Orleans on Wednesday night.  

“It feels way different. It’s more enjoyable,” Green said. “Last season, I think we went into the season with the wrong mindset.”

Green orchestrated Golden State’s defense attack for the majority of the night. While directing traffic, Green was also tasked with switching onto both front court and backcourt players throughout the game. 

From holding his ground on the post against New Orleans’ bigs like Randle, Nikola Mirotic and E’Twaun Moore, Green was also forced to step out to the perimeter to defend the Pelicans’ guards. This included Jrue Holiday, who would lead New Orleans in scoring with 28 points.

Perhaps Green’s toughest assignment of the evening, though, was defending Davis, who made his return to game-action after missing his last two games with a right elbow strain. Green, Kevon Looney and Damian Jones held the five-time All-Star to just 6-of-16 shooting, and 17 points on the night, well below his season average of 27.3 points per game.

“I think we mixed in some good fires, some good double teams … we kept him off balance a little bit,” Green said. “Looney did a good job on him, DJ [Damian Jones], when he zoned in did a great job, too.”  

For as stellar as Green was defensively, not everything went his way on Wednesday night. At the 9:43 mark of the fourth quarter, Green attempted to slide in front of a leaping Randle in front of the basket — and outside of the restricted area — to draw a charge. 

Taking a knee to the crotch in the process, Green was subsequently called for a blocking foul, adding insult to injury. But rather than argue the call, Green channeled his anger and displeasure to raise his defensive intensity that much higher.

The result: Three New Orleans turnovers in their next five possessions, all of which forced in one way or another by Green. Golden State would convert said turnovers into five points, increasing a 10-point lead to 15. 

“You just find energy in different things and how you direct your energy towards different things. That’s been kind of a point of emphasis for me this year,” Green said. “To waste all of my energy arguing with the referees about the call, it’s not going to change. So just turn the page to the next play and try to make something happen.”

Finishing the night with 16 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists, head coach Steve Kerr called Green the best player on the floor. For the three-time All-Star, Wednesday night’s performance was mostly about starting his campaign to reclaim his title as the most dominant defensive player in the NBA, after being snubbed from even a First-Team All-Defense nod last season.

“I need that bad,” Green said in regards to achieving the DPOY nod this season. “I made Second-Team All-Defense last year. I’m pissed off about that still. I’ll be pissed about that until I right that … Second Team All-Defense; that’s disrespectful.”

 

OAKLAND, CA - OCT 31: Forward Jordan Bell #2 of the Golden State Warriors goes for a lay-up over Julius Randle #30 of the New Orleans Pelicans the second quarter of the game on October 31, 2018 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. (Chris Victorio - Special to S.F. Examiner)

OAKLAND, CA - OCT 31: Forward Draymond Green #23 of the Golden State Warriors goes for a lay-up pass E'twaun Moore #55 of the New Orleans Pelicans the second quarter of the game on October 31, 2018 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. (Chris Victorio - Special to S.F. Examiner)

OAKLAND, CA - OCT 31: Forward Draymond Green #23 of the Golden State Warriors goes for a lay-up pass E'twaun Moore #55 of the New Orleans Pelicans the second quarter of the game on October 31, 2018 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. (Chris Victorio - Special to S.F. Examiner)

OAKLAND, CA - OCT 31: Andre Iguodala #9 of the Golden State Warriors takes a jump-shot over takes a jump-shot over Nikola Mirotic #3 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the second quarter of the game on October 31, 2018 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. (Chris Victorio - Special to S.F. Examiner)

Klay Thompson (11) of the Golden State Warriors gets surround during the game against Anthony Davis (23) and E'Twuan Moore (55) of the New Orleans Pelicans during the second quarter of the game on October 31, 2018 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. (Chris Victorio - Special to S.F. Examiner)

OAKLAND, CA - OCT 31: Klay Thompson #11 of the Golden State Warriors gets surround during the game against Anthony Davis #23 and E'Twuan Moore #55 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the second quarter of the game on October 31, 2018 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. (Chris Victorio - Special to S.F. Examiner)

OAKLAND, CA - OCT 31: (L-R) Kevin Durant #35, Joran Bell #2 and Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors signal a three-point basket by Klay Thompson #11 game against the New Orleans Pelicans during the second quarter of the game on October 31, 2018 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. (Chris Victorio - Special to S.F. Examiner)

OAKLAND, CA - OCT 31: Coach Steve Kerr of the Golden State Warriors during the second quarter of the game against the New Orleans Pelicans during the first quarter of the game on October 31, 2018 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. (Chris Victorio - Special to S.F. Examiner)

OAKLAND, CA - OCT 31: Forward Jonas Jerebko #21 of the Golden State Warriors goes for an easy lay-up after a turnover by the New Orleans Pelicans during the second quarter of the game on October 31, 2018 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. (Chris Victorio - Special to S.F. Examiner)

OAKLAND, CA - OCT 31: Forward Jonas Jerebko #21 of the Golden State Warriors goes for an easy lay-up after a turnover by the New Orleans Pelicans during the second quarter of the game on October 31, 2018 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. (Chris Victorio - Special to S.F. Examiner)

OAKLAND, CA - OCT 31: Forward Kevin Durant #35 of the Golden State Warriors drives towards the basket against Jrue Holiday #11 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the second quarter of the game on October 31, 2018 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. (Chris Victorio - Special to S.F. Examiner)

OAKLAND, CA - OCT 31: Jonas Jereko #21 of the Golden State Warriors blocks a lay-up by E'twain Moore #55 during the second quarter of the game on October 31, 2018 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. (Chris Victorio - Special to S.F. Examiner)

OAKLAND, CA - OCT 31: Forward Kevin Durant #35 of the Golden State Warriors gets fouled during a lay-up by Anthony Davis #23 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the second quarter of the game on October 31, 2018 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. (Chris Victorio - Special to S.F. Examiner)

OAKLAND, CA - OCT 31: Kevon Looney #5 and Jonas Jerebko #21 of the Golden State Warriors double team Julius Randle #30 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the second quarter of the game on October 31, 2018 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. (Chris Victorio - Special to S.F. Examiner)

OAKLAND, CA - OCT 31: Kevon Looney #5 of the Golden State Warriors misses a dunk pass over Jrue Holiday #11 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the first quarter of the game on October 31, 2018 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. (Chris Victorio - Special to S.F. Examiner)

OAKLAND, CA - OCT 31: Guard Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors drives towards the basket against Frank Johnson #15 and Anthony Davis #23 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the first quarter of the game on October 31, 2018 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. (Chris Victorio - Special to S.F. Examiner)

OAKLAND, CA - OCT 31: Guard Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors drives towards the basket against Frank Johnson #15 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the first quarter of the game on October 31, 2018 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. (Chris Victorio - Special to S.F. Examiner)

OAKLAND, CA - OCT 31: Guard Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors reacts to a defensive foul called against him against the New Orleans Pelicans during the first quarter of the game on October 31, 2018 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. (Chris Victorio - Special to S.F. Examiner)

OAKLAND, CA - OCT 31: Forward Kevin Durant #35 of the Golden State Warriors looks to pass the basketball against the New Orleans Pelicans during the first quarter of the game on October 31, 2018 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. (Chris Victorio - Special to S.F. Examiner)

OAKLAND, CA - OCT 31: Forward Kevin Durant #35 of the Golden State Warriors passes the basketball against the New Orleans Pelicans during the first quarter of the game on October 31, 2018 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. (Chris Victorio - Special to S.F. Examiner)

OAKLAND, CA - OCT 31: Guard Stephen Currey #30 of the Golden State Warriors goes up for a lay-up over Anthony Davis #23 of the New Orleans Pelicans drives towards the basket during the first quarter of the game on October 31, 2018 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. (Chris Victorio - Special to S.F. Examiner)

OAKLAND, CA - OCT 31: Guard Stephen Currey #30 of the Golden State Warriors gets around Tim Frazier #10 of the New Orleans Pelicans drives towards the basket during the first quarter of the game on October 31, 2018 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. (Chris Victorio - Special to S.F. Examiner)

OAKLAND, CA - OCT 31: Forward Kevin Durant #35 of the Golden State Warriors drives to the basket against guard Jrue Holiday of the New Orleans Pelicans during the first quarter of the game on October 31, 2018 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. (Chris Victorio - Special to S.F. Examiner)

OAKLAND, CA - OCT 31: (L-R) Rod Ballelos and Geralyn Joy wear Halloween costumes as Street Fighter characters Ryu and Chun-Li before the Golden State Warriors game against the New Orleans Pelicans on October 31, 2018 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, CA. (Chris Victorio - Special to S.F. Examiner)

OAKLAND, CA - OCT 31: (L-R) Rebecca and Paul Fern of Tracy, CA dress as "Warriors" Halloween costumes before the Golden State Warriors game against the New Orleans Pelicans on October 31, 2018 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, CA. (Chris Victorio - Special to S.F. Examiner)

OAKLAND, CA - OCT 31: Fans from New Orleans and the San Francisco Bay area attend in Halloween costumes before the Golden State Warriors game against the New Orleans Pelicans on October 31, 2018 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, CA. (Chris Victorio - Special to S.F. Examiner)

OAKLAND, CA - OCT 31: (L-R) Linh Nguyen and Luis Gentry of Union City, CA dress in Halloween costumes before the Golden State Warriors game against the New Orleans Pelicans on October 31, 2018 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, CA. (Chris Victorio - Special to S.F. Examiner)

OAKLAND, CA - OCT 31: Janelle Otsuki of Walnut Creek, CA dress in a Halloween costume before the Golden State Warriors game against the New Orleans Pelicans on October 31, 2018 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, CA. (Chris Victorio - Special to S.F. Examiner)

OAKLAND, CA - OCT 31: (L-R) Ken and Aimee Van Meter of San Jose, CA dress in Halloween costumes before the Golden State Warriors game against the New Orleans Pelicans on October 31, 2018 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, CA. (Chris Victorio - Special to S.F. Examiner)

OAKLAND, CA - OCT 31: (L-R) Luke Fraser, Mike Hampton and Jen Poole of Berkeley, CA dress in Halloween costumes before the Golden State Warriors game against the New Orleans Pelicans on October 31, 2018 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, CA. (Chris Victorio - Special to S.F. Examiner)

OAKLAND, CA - OCT 31: Dorene Hayes of San Jose, CA is dresses as the Queen of Hearts for Halloween before the Golden State Warriors game against the New Orleans Pelicans on October 31, 2018 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, CA. (Chris Victorio - Special to S.F. Examiner)

OAKLAND, CA - OCT 31: (L-R) Lily Yuan, dressed as Captain Crunch and Randy Candler, dressed as The Phantom of the Oracle, for Halloween before the Golden State Warriors game against the New Orleans Pelicans on October 31, 2018 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, CA. (Chris Victorio - Special to S.F. Examiner)

OAKLAND, CA - OCT 31: (L-R) Ryan and Michael of San Francisco, CA, dressed as the Blues Brothers attend the Golden State Warriors game against the New Orleans Pelicans on October 31, 2018 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, CA. (Chris Victorio - Special to S.F. Examiner)

OAKLAND, CA - OCT 31: (L-R) Kyle Brown, Fran Chapman and Jan Brown of San Mateo, CA attend the Golden State Warriors game against the New Orleans Pelicans on October 31, 2018 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, CA. (Chris Victorio - Special to S.F. Examiner)

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