Sun, May 06, 2018 - Page 11 News List

Pelicans crush Warriors; Rockets rout Jazz

AFP, LOS ANGELES

The New Orleans Pelicans, energized by a return to their home court, dominated reigning champions the Golden State Warriors in a 119-100 playoff win on Friday as Houston reasserted themselves against the Utah Jazz.

Anthony Davis scored 33 points to go with 18 rebounds and four steals, while Pelicans point guard Rajon Rondo dished out 21 assists to keep the New Orleans offense clicking.

The Pelicans outscored Golden State 54-36 in the paint and drained 14 three-pointers as they whittled the deficit to 2-1 in their best-of-seven Western Conference semi-final series.

The Pelicans will have a chance to even things up when they host Game 4 today.

“We just did what we were supposed to do,” Davis said. “Of course it was a big game for us. We didn’t want to go down 0-3, but we got our big one tonight and now we’ll try to get ready for Sunday.”

Warriors coach Steve Kerr was not surprised to see the Pelicans respond after dropping the first two games in Oakland, California.

“On their home floor, down 2-0, this is what you expect,” Kerr said of the intensity the Pelicans displayed from the opening tip-off. “Their defense was great. They were the aggressors. I thought they brought the necessary force to the game on their home floor.”

New Orleans drained 10 three-pointers in the first 24 minutes, leading by as many as 15 en route to a 62-56 halftime margin.

Guard Jrue Holiday helped set the tone, scoring 11 of his 21 points in the first quarter.

Warriors star Stephen Curry, back in the starting lineup after coming off the bench in his return from a knee injury in Game 2, mustered only three points in the opening quarter, when sharp-shooter Klay Thompson was held scoreless.

Thompson scored 20 of his 26 points in the second quarter, but finished making just nine of his 22 attempts from the field.

Kevin Durant added 22 points and Curry finished with 19 points on six-of-19 shooting for the Warriors.

“Game two is always the hardest when you come back from injury,” Kerr said of Curry’s struggles. “He didn’t look as sharp with his movement. Obviously he didn’t make his shots, but more than that it was just about the energy, the legs, but that’ll come.”

Western Conference top seeds Houston, stung by a Game 2 defeat on their home floor, responded with a vengeance in Salt Lake City, Utah, where they thrashed the Jazz 113-92.

Houston took a 2-1 lead in their Western Conference series, which continues today at Utah.

James Harden scored 25 points with 12 assists for Houston. Eric Gordon added another 25 points in a merciless display by a Rockets team that led the league with 65 regular-season victories.

Royce O’Neale led the Jazz with 17 points as Houston’s stifling defense shut down Game 2 standouts Donovan Mitchell and Joe Ingles.

Mitchell connected on just four of 16 from the field for 10 points while Ingles, who scored 27 points in Game 2, finished with six points on two-of-10 shooting.

“We didn’t give up any easy looks,” Harden said. “We contested every shot.”

After a Game 2 performance that Harden described as “lackadaisical,” Houston came out with laser-like focus, scoring from the field on six of their first seven possessions.

Their 39 points in the first quarter had the Jazz reeling — which was just what the Rockets had in mind.

“We were going to be the aggressor,” Harden said of the team’s mindset after their stumble at home. “Game 2, they dictated the tempo, they came out and kind of punched us in the mouth with a 36-point quarter.”

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