OAKLAND, Calif. — Stephen Curry scored 34 points with an MVP-worthy performance, and the Golden State Warriors went up big before holding off the New Orleans Pelicans 106-99 in their playoff opener Saturday.
Klay Thompson added 21 points, and Draymond Green and Andrew Bogut dominated down low as the Warriors looked every bit like the NBA’s top seed — at least for three quarters. They smothered Anthony Davis and the Pelicans with the league’s best defense, thrilling a gold shirt-wearing sellout crowd of 19,596 that rocked and roared all afternoon.
The Warriors led by 15 after the first quarter, 18 at the half and 25 late in the third. The Pelicans pulled within four in the final minute behind Davis, who scored 20 of his 35 points in the fourth quarter, to make the contest seem closer than it really was.
Game 2 of the series is Monday night in Oakland, where the Warriors have won 19 straight.
Davis shot 13 of 23 from the floor and grabbed seven rebounds in his playoff debut. Quincy Pondexter scored 20 points and Eric Gordon added 16 for the Pelicans, who shot 42.2 percent.
That was due in large part to Golden State’s defensive stoppers, Green and Bogut, who came up big on both ends. Pelicans point guard Tyreke Evans also left in the first half with a bruised left knee and did not return.
Green finished with 15 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists. Bogut had 12 points, 14 rebounds and five assists.
The Warriors won a franchise-record 67 games, going a league-best 39-2 at home. And just like their regular-season resume predicted, they worked over the Pelicans with all the pomp and potency of a playoff powerhouse.
Fans chanted “War-ri-ors!” during warmups, an alley-oop from Thompson to Bogut got them roaring more and then came Curry crashing through the lane for layups, sending them into a chorus of “M-V-P!” for the man many believe will take home the league’s most coveted individual award.
All of it started from a swarming defensive effort that kept Davis from doing much until the final quarter and, in turn, negated everything New Orleans wanted to do.
Golden State led 28-13 after the first quarter. In the final seconds of the second quarter, Curry raced up court and converted a left-handed reverse layup off the top of the glass, drawing a foul on Davis to start a three-point play and flexing his arms to the crowd.
The basket put the Warriors up 59-41 at the half, and they led 82-57 late in the third quarter. Despite Davis’ late push, it was too much for New Orleans to overcome.
Curry finished 13 of 25 shooting but just 4 of 13 from 3-point range. He also had five assists and four rebounds.