NEW ORLEANS – Asked what nits he would pick after a 122-114 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday night, Warriors superstar Stephen Curry met the question head-on.
“My list is long,” he said in the visitor’s locker room at Smoothie King Center. “Y’all don’t have enough time for that.”
That’s Curry, realizing he’s still searching for his “zone” while the team is seeking its bearings and knowing things will take off when he does.
For now, the Warriors are laboring through the changes and transformations required of a superbly talented team trying to coordinate and harmonize all its components. They are not yet as good as the sum of their parts.
There will be nights when what they have while still developing will be good enough, and this was one of them.
The Warriors rode Kevin Durant (30 points, 17 rebounds, six assists, two blocks and two steals), Klay Thompson (28 points) and Curry (23 points and seven assists) until they had created enough separation to overcome the relentless Anthony Davis, who came at the Warriors for 45 points and 17 rebounds.
“There was a lot of good stuff tonight, some bad stuff,” coach Steve Kerr said. “But the effort and the intensity were there. We did a pretty good job of taking care of the ball, which if we can win the possession battle we should generally be in good shape.
“But some lapses defensively, some head-scratching decision-making at times, we’ve got some things to work on. But at least we’re on the board. We got a win.”
That’s where the bar is set – for now. It will rise as the season progresses, but after two games it’s simply about no finding ways to win, even if beating an utterly defective Pelicans team was harder than it should have been.
The Warriors (1-1) were even in rebounds (49-49), but won the game mostly, as Kerr indicated, by being better with the ball than the Pelicans. While the Warriors scored 18 points of 15 New Orleans turnovers, the Pelicans managed on 9 off 14 Warriors giveaways.
“I liked some of it. I thought our offense was clicking for a while and we were moving the ball,” Thompson said. “But, still, too many lapses on defense. We realize it’s not going to be perfect right now, but we’ll get there. (We’ve got) a long way to go. But I’m just happy we got the win, honestly.”
It was those defensive lapses that allowed New Orleans to stay within striking distance, even if they never had only one brief second-half lead (74-73, 4:36 left in the third quarter) and trailed by as much as 16.
Behind point guard Tim Frazier (21 points, 10 assists) and Davis, the Pelicans never caved in. Held to 38.8 percent in the first half, they shot 54.9 percent in the second.
“For the most part, we played hard,” Kerr said. “But we had some breakdowns where everybody just stopped and looked at each other, so it looked like they weren’t trying. It was more a lack of communication, which led to a couple defensive breakdowns.”
The Warriors had to keep right themselves, and did so just enough times to prevail.
Not until Durant blocked a Davis shot with 41.6 seconds left, and converted a breakaway layup on the other end to put the Warriors up by 8 was this one secure.
“We’re going to have to get so much better,” Kerr said. “We can see how much work we have ahead. We’ve got plenty of talent, but talent is not going to be enough. We’ve got to be smart. We’ve got to be tough. We’ve got to just grow as a team. Fortunately, we’ve got a long time to do that.”
The Warriors are built for greatness, but it’s becoming more and more apparent the path to get there will have plenty of peaks and valleys. Those will be unavoidable, even if sheer talent suggests nothing can stop them except themselves.