OAKLAND – If not for Stephen Curry painting the proceedings with an eye-catching shade of individual magnificence, it surely would have been among the most forgettable victories of the season for the Warriors.
They blew a 21-point second-quarter lead, to the wounded and winless Pelicans.
The Warriors snoozed through nearly the entire third quarter and allowed New Orleans to shoot nearly 70 percent in the fourth.
They were outrebounded, and both outshot and outscored in the paint.
They won anyway, 116-106, because they didn’t torture themselves with turnovers, because their opponent was the Pelicans, who haven’t won since last season, and because they had Curry.
“He was really carrying us, obviously, as we were trying to find some footing,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said of Curry, who drained an NBA record 13 3-pointers while scoring a season-high 46 points.
Among the starters, Draymond Green best complimented Curry. Green scored only four points, but he contributed 12 rebounds, 11 assists, two blocks and two steals. He also was primarily responsible for keeping Pelicans star Anthony Davis (33 points) from putting his stamp on the game.
As for the rest of the Warriors, it ranged from the pedestrian to the unsatisfying.
Kevin Durant’s night (22 points, five assists, three rebounds) didn’t measure up to his usual production. Starting center Zaza Pachulia looked tentative and slow and posted a minus-14 line in only 11 minutes. Klay Thompson’s wayward 3-point shot is looking only slightly more familiar.
“I threw a couple turnovers trying to make plays when I should have been more aggressive,” Durant said, who committed four giveaways.
“I thought he passed up a couple shots early and he tried to make passes that weren’t there and it resulted in turnovers,” Kerr said of Durant. “I don’t want him passing up shots. I want Kevin shooting anytime he’s open. I want him to be aggressive.”
Durant’s occasional hesitancy is just another indication that the offense continues to evolve. The assist-to-turnover rate was quite good, 35-15, indicating sharp passing that led to easy buckets. The Warriors shot 50 percent, only slightly better than New Orleans but used their 3-point shooting advantage to tuck away the win.
“I like 35 assists,” Kerr said. “It’s a good number and that’s a great sign considering we aren’t all on the same page. We’re still trying to find our groove. It was a good win. We’ll get better from this.”
The defense came and went, allowing the Pelicans, still missing three injured starters, to stick around and make a game of it for most of the night.
“Overall tonight it was OK,” Green said. “It could be better, which I think it can be better just about every night.”
It was enough to put the Warriors back in the win column, lifting their record to 5-2, but was yet another reminder that this team has weeks to go before it can realistically begin approaching its peak.
“We’ve got to do a better job of putting it all together,” Kerr said. “But a lot of good stuff, and we’ll build on it.”
Which, under the circumstances, is the way it should be. The Warriors have 75 games remaining on the schedule and the only season by which they’ll be measured – the postseason – doesn’t begin for another five months
That’s what makes nights like this tolerable.
Well, that and Steph Curry at his mesmerizing, artistic best.