NBA teams knew the compacted 2020-21 season would be grueling.
The Warriors wrapped up a week-long, three-city road trip that traversed from Minneapolis to Houston to New Orleans, where they finished up with a back-to-back against the Pelicans. Tuesday’s matchup didn’t go like Monday’s, as the Warriors ran out of gas in the fourth quarter while sputtering in a 108-103 loss.
“I’m sure if we said that we were [tired] it would sound like an excuse -- that’s what everybody would say,” Juan Toscano-Anderson told reporters after the game. “But it’s hard. Just call it what it is. Been a long a road trip and a long season. It’s hard to beat any team back to back. We knew that going in.”
Toscano-Anderson admitted that two games against a bruising player like Zion Williams can take its toll. He scored three points, grabbed six rebounds and dished four assists in 25 minutes, a night after scoring 14 points, grabbing five boards and adding four assists in 33 minutes. Williamson finished Tuesday's game with 23 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists.
“I was a little fatigued,” Toscano-Anderson said. “Zion Williamson is a tough matchup. He’s a big load to handle. I definitely felt that from last night, but we had a chance to win the game. With all that being said, we just got beat tonight. They outplayed us in the fourth. They outscored by nine points and I think that was the difference.”
As Toscano-Anderson noted, the Pelicans outscored the Warriors 33-24 in the fourth quarter. With the loss, the Warriors (33-33) remained the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference but fell back to .500 along with No. 9 seed. The Pelicans (30-36) are two games behind the San Antonio Spurs (31-33) for the No. 10 seed as the final play-in team.
“I thought we were tired,” Kerr said. “I thought both teams were tired on a back-to-back, obviously. I’m really proud of the guys. They battled the entire way. Clearly we were tired in the fourth. Give New Orleans credit. They made plays that they had to.”
Without Kelly Oubre Jr. (sore left wrist), Eric Paschall (strained left hip flexor) and James Wiseman (knee surgery), Kerr is relying on a small eight-man rotation, where Kevon Looney is the lone traditional big man.
But Kerr said the Warriors don’t have another option at this point. They will wrap up the season with six home games in the span of 11 days, beginning with Thursday’s matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
“Being so short-handed, it does put a lot of pressure on those guys,” Kerr said. “It’s the way it is. Just gotta keep going.”