Here is a link to my Friday column about the Warriors’ win in Game 3. This game changed so fast and my deadline was so tight I hope this came out in English. The full text runs below:
NEW ORLEANS — You could feel the fear in the Pelicans. They were ready to choke. They would embrace choking. You could feel the fear in their crowd. The fear was palpable. It was a thing, a monster lurking.
The Pelicans went into the fourth quarter against the Warriors, the Warriors who had been chumps, the Pelicans leading by 20 points. Twenty points is a fortune. It’s a guaranteed win. It’s the Warriors playing Brandon Rush in garbage time so the other guys could play another day.
But the Pelicans — sad birds — knew more than we knew, more than anyone knew. The Warriors are one great team, one explode-in-your-face team. And as long as there were ticks on the clock, the Warriors would shoot free and loose and happily. And they would play subtraction. Subtract from that 20. Make it into a zero. Pure nothing. Let the thing go into overtime.
That’s what the Pelicans allowed to happen. Classic failure of nerve. Could not put away the game. You don’t put the Warriors away, they will kill you. And they did kill the Pelicans. 123-119.
The game started out so badly for the Warriors. Ugly. Anthony Davis ate Draymond Green’s lunch. He also ate Andrew Bogut’s lunch. When you get down to it, he went on an eating binge courtesy of the Warriors.
He ended with 29 points and 15 rebounds, and he made a statement even if he didn’t mean to. There had been griping among the Warriors earlier Thursday about Green and/or Bogut not being named Defensive Player of the Year. Well, Davis was loudly stating, “Defend this.” He also was stating, “Defend me if you can.”
And the Warriors could not defend him. For a while. Davis did to Green what he always could do. Should have done. Shoot over him. Davis used his height and length and made Green, a firm alert aggressive defender, look like his kid brother or sidekick. Green got into early foul trouble, was edgy, unsettled, inconsequential.
Davis did the same to Bogut — stole his salami sandwich. When Bogut continued to trail Davis past the foul line — why? — well, when Bogut trailed him, Davis shot over the big guy, the big guy making no move to contest the shot. The big guy standing there amazed. Bogut out of his depth. A beginner swimmer in the deep water.
But things changed. Drastically. The Pelicans are good but, really, they are one big great player and a bunch of guards. Like a baseball team of leadoff hitters. They know it and they knew what would happen. And it did happen. That’s what this game felt like.
Before the fourth quarter started, Steve Kerr brought his team together, his team down 20. He told himself he didn’t recognize the team that was playing out there. Was this his team?
“Just stay with it,” he told the players, trying to restore order. “I told them at the start of the fourth, ‘We’re down 20. You never know. Be composed.’ We were in desperation mode. We made some shots. More importantly, we made stops at the other end.”
Pause here. Think about Stephen Curry. He hit a 3 to force overtime. Listen to Kerr on Curry. In fact, Kerr is the only Warriors’ voice you’ll hear in this column. No one explains the Warriors better than he does.
“It’s as good as it gets,” Kerr said of Curry’s game-tying shot. “A 3 with two seconds left. He got fouled, too. Could have been a four-point play. To make that shot shows what Steph is about on a night he’s not having a great shooting performance. His confidence level is off the charts. He’s fearless. He wants every big shot. That’s why he’s Steph Curry.”
At the start of overtime, Kerr decided to bring in Bogut. “I just felt it was a miracle we had another chance,” Kerr admitted. “I put Boges back in. I told them ‘We had the best defense in the league for 82 games. We have two guys here who are going to be All Defense (Bogut and Green). We have a second chance. Let’s spend five minutes being a great defensive team because we didn’t spend the first 48 being a good defense.’ ”
And the Warriors were a great defense again. Just took over in OT. Curry made a 3 to start the period. If there is a better shooter on Earth, produce him for the world to see.
Afterward, Kerr tried to explain the comeback win, although “comeback” hardly describes what happened. How about the Miracle by the Delta?
“Well, we were pretty desperate,” Kerr said. “We went small. We put Shaun Livingston in. We gave Steph a brief rest to start the fourth. We had nothing going for three quarters. It was as bad a game as I’ve seen us play in a long time. They had us scattered at both ends. Our small unit came in and turned it into a track meet and Draymond was fantastic. Draymond thwarted several lobs and plays at the rim (from Davis).”
Kerr stopped speaking. He smiled.
“I have to watch the tape,” he admitted. “I’m not sure what happened. I’m as startled as everyone else.”
So, what does it all mean?
The Pelicans had to make a world-class effort and still lost. They got so scared they almost went into cardiac arrest as they gave away the game — as the Warriors ripped it out of their nervous hands
The Pelicans never will come back from a crusher like this one. They may win one game — maybe — but they won’t win four in a row. They couldn’t even win one in a row in a game they had won.
True, they ate the Warriors’ lunch, but later in the day, the warriors ate the Pelicans’ dinner, cleaned out their icebox and slept in their bed.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.