Other NBA teams should beware: Going to whoever Draymond Green is guarding on your last offensive possession in a close game is ill-advised.
For the third time this year, Green had the game-winning stop on Tuesday against the New Orleans Pelicans. The do-everything forward poked the ball out of Anthony Davis’ hands to clinch a 113-109 Golden State Warriors victory.
“Didn’t surprise me,” head coach Steve Kerr told reporters after the game. “One-on-one against anybody, I’ll take Draymond any day. He’s a nasty defender.”
In addition to sealing the win, Green stuffed the stat sheet. He finished with his first triple-double of the year: 12 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists with four steals and a pair of blocks to boot.
“Triple-doubles don’t matter to me, it is what it is,” Green said. “But to get a stop to win the game, I’d always rather win it like that than win it on the offensive end because you have to dig deep, especially against a player like Anthony Davis.”
Playing its fifth game in seven nights, Golden State struggled to slow the Pelicans, who were determined to turn the game into a fast-paced affair. The result was an exciting contest that featured 13 lead changes, including 11 after halftime.
Stephen Curry had a game-high 30 points with seven assists. He went five-for-nine from beyond the 3-point arc and even drew a high five from New Orleans associate coach Darren Erman, a former Dubs assistant, after hitting a jumper.
“Obviously I know him very well, and he was telling Jrue [Holiday], while I’m shooting, he’s yelling out, ‘If he makes it, it’s a good shot, if he makes it’s a good shot,’ trying to encourage their defense,” Curry explained. “So, I wanted a little praise for that good shot I made and he gave it to me. So he was a good sport.”
Kevin Durant scored 27 points and had a couple of big plays on the defensive end, most notably a block on Davis on a jumpshot in the final minute of the game that he turned into a dunk on the other end.
“Our backs were against the wall and we fought through,” Durant said.
The Dubs won the turnover battle, 17-11, and forced the Pelicans into four in the final four minutes of the game. Davis’ six giveaways marred an otherwise extraordinary performance of 28 points, eight assists and five blocks.
Golden State had its 18th game with at least 30 assists.
But the Dubs’ defensive effort wasn’t consistent as they allowed New Orleans to hit 14 3-pointers. But when it counted, Green stepped up.
“I felt clutch my whole life, that’s how my mom taught me to be,” he said when asked when it was he realized that he had a knack for closing out games with winning plays.
JaVale McGee made his first start as a Warrior, filling in for an injured Zaza Pachulia, who has missed three-straight games with a right wrist contusion. McGee played a season-high minutes (16) and logged nine points and five rebounds in the process. Pachulia is slated to get an MRI today, Kerr said pregame.
The Dubs return home for a three-game homestand after going 4-1 on their roadtrip. Their first contest back will be against the New York Knicks on Thursday.