Here is a link to my column on the Warriors’ win in Game 2. The full text runs below:
OAKLAND – And it was loud. Loud the whole time. Loud before the Warriors won 97-87. Loud after.
It was loud because of Monty Williams, coach of the Pelicans. He opened his mouth Monday morning at his team’s shootaround, said, “I’m not so sure the decibel level is legal (at Oracle Arena), and I’m serious. They’ve done studies on that. For the competition committee, there’s got to be something to that. It does get a little out of hand.”
So, the fans, among the loudest in the league to begin with, were noisier than usual, eardrum-wiggling loud. They drowned out the introduction of the Pelicans players. That kind of loud. They made a point, showed they felt offended.
Steve Kerr already had made fun of Williams. In his pregame news conference someone asked, naturally, about it being too loud at Oracle. Kerr looked serious and said, “Too noisy? I’m just going to make an appeal to our fans to be as quiet as possible. It’s the least we can do.”
As Kerr left the interview room and as someone said Williams was entering, Kerr said, “Try to keep it down.”
Williams said he had been kidding. Maybe he was telling the truth — he has a dry sense of humor. But he was foolish to open his mouth. His team already had lost Game 1. He didn’t need the grief — reporters grilled him at his pregame news conference as if he’d been arrested for breaking and entering. His players sure didn’t need the grief.
Not that the Pelicans players — give them credit — seemed shocked by the hubbub, the bedlam, the delirium. The Pelicans came out fast and they gave it a shot. Their best shot. A desperation shot. Win this game or eventually surrender the series. Lose the game and acknowledge the inevitable. Elimination. Their shot was brave, but it was a loser’s shot, the kind of shot that always runs out of bullets. A doomed-to-fail shot.
They ran the Warriors. They owned the first quarter. Played frantic basketball. They made a statement. Well, they tried to make a statement. Something like, “This really is a series. It’s not a vacation for the Warriors or a tune-up for the second round of the playoffs. It is basketball and it is serious and we want to make you sweat as we did in the fourth quarter of Game 1.” They ran the Warriors, they did.
And for a while, they made the Warriors sweat. Give them that. Draymond Green had three turnovers in the first quarter. They were edgy Warriors. The better team, the more talented team by a mile, didn’t shoot well and looked annoyed and had to work hard. As it should be. “We always walk the line between explosive and careless,” Kerr said afterward. And he was right.
But then the Warriors took over — for a while behind Leandro Barbosa of all people, who went nuts in the second quarter. The Warriors outscored the Pelicans by 14 in that quarter, just turned the game around, and ended the half up three points. Anthony Davis, that proud Pelicans player, trudged under the north basket toward the tunnel with his head down. Like he could see the future and the future wasn’t good.
And even though the Pelicans tied the game after three quarters — they ran the Warriors — the Warriors finally dismissed them from the game. “We knew it was going to come eventually,” Andrew Bogut said. And it did.
Why did the Warriors dismiss the Pelicans? And why will they dismiss them for good in a few days?
It’s not only that the Warriors have better players. They sure do. New Orleans has Davis but no one else of consequence. The Warriors have Stephen Curry and Bogut and Green and Klay Thompson. Thompson was the star of the game, the sweetest stroke you ever saw. He scored 14 points in the fourth quarter, 26 total. The talent difference between the teams is more unfair that the noise — not that the noise is unfair.
But there’s something else. The Pelicans refused to play defense. Refuse to play defense. Curry or Thompson drove the hoop and the Pelicans stood there and watched. Like they were part of the crowd. Like they had paid for tickets.
The Warriors would shift on defense, defenders picking up guys all over the place, knocking away shots under the basket. With the Warriors — so well-coached — defense is an offensive concept. They allowed the Pelicans to score just nine baskets in the second half. A pitiful number. Much of the defense came behind Green, a prodigy.
“Everybody has a role on the team,” Green said after the game. “When we need something emotionally, it’s my job to step up. It’s a part of my role on this team. Bring your toughness to the floor, bring your vocal leader, your emotional leader. If we need that I take it upon myself.”
But with the Pelicans defense is strictly snooze time. It’s what they don’t do. Their whole idea is wait to get the ball. Take another “J.” Jog back slowly on defense. And again. And again.
You want an example. The plucky Pelicans — can Pelicans be plucky? — tied the score with fewer than six minutes left in the third quarter, tied it at 64. So, Bogut passed to Curry under the hoop for a scoop layup as easy as pie. What did five Pelicans do? They looked.
The Pelicans will not learn defense in the next few days. They will make another brave run or two and they will try hard, they really will. And you will admire them. And then the Warriors will run them down.
Poor Monty Williams doesn’t like noise. No problem. Soon he won’t hear a single peep or cheer or boo. He can sit alone on the shores of Lake Pontchartrain and listen to the water.
For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at firstname.lastname@example.org.