The New Orleans Pelicans and Golden State Warriors hook up for the third time this season Friday night, but they might have a hard time recognizing each other in their first meeting in San Francisco.
The Warriors got 24 points and eight assists from D’Angelo Russell in a 134-123 victory in New Orleans in October, before returning to the Bayou without Russell for a November rematch, which the Pelicans won 108-100.
Russell was far from the only big name missing last month, with the Warriors also going without Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Kevon Looney, while the Pelicans didn’t suit up Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart.
One thing that hasn’t changed much since the meeting almost five weeks ago is each team’s win total.
The Pelicans won for the fourth time that night; they have since gone 3-13.
Meanwhile, the loss dropped the Warriors to 2-12; they’ve gone 3-12 since.
New Orleans had lost 13 in a row before opening a four-game trip with a 107-99 win at Minnesota on Wednesday night.
Despite playing a second game in two nights and immediately falling behind 7-0, the Pelicans had control of the game most of the night, thanks mainly to a 34-point effort from Ingram and a defensive effort that allowed New Orleans to hold an opponent under 100 points for the first time this season.
“We talked about playing blue-collar desperate,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry insisted to reporters afterward. “We had to be the most desperate team, not just in this game tonight, but the most desperate team in the league.”
With the exception of Williamson, the Pelicans are mostly healthy for their third matchup with the Warriors. That includes JJ Redick, who has averaged 21.3 points in his last four games, shooting nearly 51 percent overall and 52 percent on 3-pointers.
Redick was a difference-maker, both positive and negative, in the earlier games against Golden State. He shot 1-for-10 overall and 1-for-9 on 3-pointers, totaling five points, in the October loss, before rebounding with 26 points on 8-for-16 shooting, 6-for-11 on threes, in the rematch.
Shortly after the Pelicans finished off the Timberwolves, the Warriors were dueling Portland on mostly even terms before falling short 122-112 on the Trail Blazers’ home floor.
Russell had 26 points, including five 3-pointers, in the game, which Golden State will now follow with five straight at home.
That’s not necessarily a good thing, as the Warriors are just 2-10 at their new Chase Center this season.
Frustration set in following the loss at Portland, when Draymond Green accused the Trail Blazers of “cheating the game” when an assistant coach called for a delay-of-game infraction against the Warriors when Green, still unwrapping his knees, wasn’t ready to enter the contest upon being summoned from the scorer’s table in the fourth quarter.
Green reminded all in earshot that the Warriors have dominated the Trail Blazers in the playoffs in recent years, and also have ended Chris Paul’s season on multiple occasions.
It was Paul who got a delay-of-game call against the Timberwolves when Jordan Bell entered a game with his jersey untucked earlier this month.
“Those that cheat the game don’t win in the playoffs,” he demanded to reporters. “Monkey see, monkey do. I see one guy ask for a delay-of-game and get it, then I’m gonna ask for one. (That’s) weak.”
The Warriors expect to have all but Curry and Thompson available in an attempt to snap a five-game losing streak.
–Field Level Media