The Golden State Warriors did not have much to gain by playing the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday night (7 April), but there was much to prove.
After 20 points loss Indiana on Thursday (April 5) that coach Steve Kerr called "pathetic", the defending champion hoped to win over New Orleans (46-34), despite having already finished second in the Western Conference
Rajond Rondo made sure that did not happen.
The Pelicans Point Guard kicked Warriors striker Kevin Durant's ball off 31.3 seconds in the fourth quarter to prevent a 126-120 victory at the Oracle Arena (19659005) Durant, who finished 41 points and 10 rebounds He also had the ball of Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday torn away by just under 90 shots and his team by four.
Kerr said he was happy with Golden State's efforts, but he thought his team had "strained too hard" to make games in their last possessions.
"I really liked our fight, our guys really did get together," Kerr told reporters. "(Durant) was phenomenal in the second half, he carried us, it felt like we were gaining some weight on some pieces As I said, I thought the fight was good and the execution was not, but we can get better. "
The Warriors are not quite as potent with All Star Stephen Curry pausing with a sprained MCL, but you emerged against New Orleans with a playoff mentality.
Durant scored 30 of his 41
However, the pelicans reacted and grabbed a win to give some confidence if these teams would meet in the first round of the playoffs.
The pelicans hold the No. 5 seed with two games left in the regular season.
"I thought our fight was a lot better in the second half and especially in the third quarter we played well," said Kerr. "The slow start, I think, has hurt us, it felt not as if we were connected and in combat until about the end of the second quarter, third quarter, it felt like a pick-up game for a while, so leaving such a team so insulting, it's hard
Rondo's coup d'etat at the end of the game showed once again how valuable his experience is for a Pelican team (19659005) Some thought that the 32-year-old Point Guard has been in frustrating seasons in Sacramento and Chicago over the last few years Two years on the way out of the league could become sovereign as always during the Pelicans' playoff push and become an integral part of one of the NBA's biggest surprise teams.
He finished the night with 12 points, 17 assists and two steals.
"That's what he does offensively defensive big games at pivotal moments. (I'm glad he's on our side," Holiday said after defeating Rondo.
Will Guillory May be at wguillory @ nola.com or 504.258.5344 Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/WillGuillory Subscribe to our Pelicans Youtube channel here.