Kendra AndrewsESPN5 minutes to read
San Francisco — Draymond Green knew he needed to get his team right in the second quarter of the Golden State Warriors’ game against the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday night.
In the midst of a disappointing first half in a game that had a significant impact on the playoff race, the Warriors lacked energy and focus. They’ve racked up 14 turnovers so far. They could not slow down the pelicans. They were ahead by 19.
So Green set fire.
“Draymond wanted us to win tonight,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after their 120-109 win. “Just the intensity, the frustration early on with the way we were playing. The madness of the world, the yelling at everyone — the bench, our bench, me — and honestly we deserve it.”
Green’s first spark came with 3:45 remaining in the second quarter when he committed his 17th technical foul.
After Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram received the ball inside the perimeter, Green appeared to lower his shoulder and push Ingram. As Ingram made his way from the baseline to the court, he approached Green and the two exchanged words, leading to some mild scrambling.
They were called for a technical double, and Green was assessed a flagrant 1 foul for the push.
Yes, he will be fined $5,000 if the tech is not scrapped within the next 24 hours – which Green thinks should happen. But even if it wasn’t, it was worth it.
“It was excellent. Perfectly executed,” said Green. “We looked dead in those first 18 minutes. We had to find some energy somewhere. It just wasn’t coming, especially after losing the game like we did the last game; that could continue. I felt like it happened. I knew we had to.” We do something and we do it quickly before the game gets out of control.”
About 20 seconds later, Green almost picked up another technician after an incident with Herbert Jones. As Green went into a layup, he collided with Jones, and after Jones hit the ground, Green landed on top of him. The two tangled, with Green’s legs wrapping around Jones’ torso as Jones tried to get up.
More scrambling from several players ensued before the scrum was broken up by the umpires and team security. After a long video review, no technical faults were evaluated.
“I have to play as hard as I try to play every time I step onto the court,” said Green. “I can’t worry about that. For me, if I’m going to change my intensity level, why would I be there?”
Green doesn’t just say one thing to push his teammates forward. And he does not do it on blind faith. He needs to know his teammates will have his back – something he admitted he wasn’t sure about earlier in the season after his altercation with Jordan Paul.
“The moment I’m going to put myself like this, you hope the guys will support me,” said Green. “If not, our season is over anyway.”
After Green’s encounter with Jones, Stephen Curry got involved in a scrum, yelling at the Pelicans players and throwing a few pushups of his own.
“He knows the guys have his back,” Carey said. I am sure [Green] He wouldn’t go out to an island like this if he didn’t have that confidence. … There are times when I’ve had to keep him in check and bring him back when he turns in the wrong direction in the sense of just staying focused on winning.”
The Warriors fell back by as much as 20 points – 17 in the first half. But they outscored the Pelicans 74-46 in the second half, including shooting 70% on their way to their second-biggest comeback of the season.
Curry scored 22 of his 38 points in the second half. Scored or assisted on 58 of the Warriors’ 120 points — 48% — including 37 of 74 in the second half, exactly 50%.
He was the Warriors’ main source of shot creation, making 8 of 14 from the ground from dribbling while his teammates shot 8 of 11 of his passes.
When I raised him a little, [Curry] “Raise it another two notches,” Green said… We all jumped in line and followed him, and he locked up. Nobody stopped him. “
Tuesday’s game had a decisive energy, whether from the delicacy of the two teams, the atmosphere inside the Chase Center or the importance of the game for both teams.
With the win, Golden State is back at the sixth seed in the Western Conference and has a half-game advantage over the Minnesota Timberwolves in seventh place.
But every game from now on will have post-season atmosphere and pressure.
“It feels like we’ve been in a playoff for two weeks now,” Curry said. “The only difference is that you play with a different team every night. But that’s the same kind of adrenaline rush we get. Every game counts.”
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