(The Sports Xchange) – For all the glamor associated with their relentless run-and-gun offense, the Golden State Warriors pride themselves occasionally on playing something called defense.
Draymond Green reinforced that Tuesday night in a 113-109 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans, the Warriors’ fourth win in five road games over the last seven nights.
While Green appreciated the work involved with his first triple-double of the season — 12 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists — it was his suffocating defense against Pelicans All-Star forward Anthony Davis in the final seconds, with the game on the line, that preserved the victory.
“Draymond loves being in that situation,” Golden State coach Steve Kerr said after the Warriors held the Pelicans without a field goal in the final 4:48.
“He relishes it. He really does, even against a guy like Anthony Davis, who’s so good. It didn’t surprise me. One-on-one against anybody, I’ll take him. He’s a nasty defender.”
The Pelicans trailed 111-109 when Jrue Holiday missed the second of two free throws with 13.4 seconds left. Guard E’Twaun Moore wound up with the loose-ball rebound and found Davis on the left side of the basket, isolated against Green.
With the clock running down, Davis began backing in toward the basket about 15 feet away. Green shaded Davis in an attempt to prevent him from spinning to the left baseline.
“I knew he wanted to drive left, that’s always when he’s on that block,” Green said. “He probably goes left 85 percent of the time on that block. Once he opened up, I just took a swipe at the ball, and I was able to get the ball.”
Green’s strip occurred with 2.3 seconds left, but Davis was so upset Green was not called for a foul that he drew his second technical foul of the season.
Asked whether he was trying to go left and to further explain the play, Davis said quickly: “I was trying to score.”
“It looked clean, because I’m the Warriors coach,” Kerr said, smiling. “But, honestly, I saw the replay and it looked clean. It was a hell of a play.
“He definitely didn’t get away with anything — it’s not like he raked him across the arms and it was a blatant foul. He got a lot of ball. He may have gotten all ball.”
Despite scoring just 18 points in the final period, the Warriors improved their league-best record to 22-4 with just enough timely shooting from Steph Curry (a game-high 30 points, including 5 of 9 from long range) and Kevin Durant (27 points).
Curry nailed a 15-foot jumper from the left baseline and a stop-and-scoop layup in the final three minutes, pivoting on a dime to let Davis fly by him on a block attempt and then easily putting the ball in.
(Editing by Andrew Both)