Los Angeles (AFP)
Steph Curry scored 41 points as the Golden State Warriors stayed on track for a playoff berth with a 123-108 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday.
Curry’s 33rd 30-point game of the season helped the Warriors move to 33-32 to leave the team firmly looking for a spot in the Western Conference play-in competition.
But the Warriors ‘road victory virtually wiped out New Orleans’ chances of reaching the playoffs.
The loss means the Pelicans are now languishing out of the game with a 29-36 record, four games adrift from the San Antonio Spurs.
Curry’s final masterclass in a season that saw him become one of the NBA’s MVP honors favorites was his ninth 40-point game of the season and the 47th 40-point game of his career. .
“I just play with confidence,” Curry said afterward. “In every game, I just try to maintain the intensity, the effort and the focus.
“It’s been a fun year and a fun race, but we still have a lot to do. I am happy to play my part. “
The Warriors led from start to finish, rocking the Pelicans by sprinting to a 39-21 lead late in the first quarter and stretching to a 25-point lead midway through the second.
“For us to come out like we did tonight in the first quarter and impose our will – it helped us keep the momentum going throughout the game offensively,” Curry told ESPN after the win.
Curry said the Warriors would need to keep improving for any chance of advancing into the playoffs from the play-in tournament.
“We understand that if we want to be in the play-in or the playoffs, we have to play basketball more consistently, nightly, nightly,” Curry said.
“And we didn’t. It was a good test for us tonight. “
– ‘Too big hole’ –
Curry was backed by Andrew Wiggins with 26 points while Draymond Green finished with a triple double with 10 points, 13 rebounds and 15 assists.
Pelicans star Zion Williamson led New Orleans scorers with 32 points, Brandon Ingram adding 19.
Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy blamed his team’s poor performance in the first quarter for the loss.
“The game was basically decided in the first quarter,” said Van Gundy. “We were just in too big a hole. A frustrating night, a disappointing night.
“We continued to fight in the second half, I give credit to our guys. But we didn’t play well enough to beat them. “
The Pelicans will have a chance to avenge the loss on Tuesday when they meet the Warriors again at home.
Elsewhere on Monday, the Denver Nuggets clinched their playoff spot ahead of their game against the Los Angeles Lakers after the Atlanta Hawks beat the Portland Trail Blazers 123-114.
The Nuggets join the Phoenix Suns, Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Clippers as teams that have already secured their tickets to the Western Conference playoffs.
In other games, Russell Westbrook had 24 assists to complete his 32nd triple-double of the season in the Washington Wizards’ 154-141 loss to the Indiana Pacers.
Westbrook’s latest triple – which also included 21 rebounds and 14 points – means he will average a triple-double for the season for the fourth time in his career.
Wizards coach Scott Brooks said after the win he believed Westbrook was second to Magic Johnson in the all-time playmaker rankings.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to see him for eight years doing a lot of things that are sometimes quite superhuman,” Brooks said. “Point guards don’t do what he does. They are not built that way.
“There are maybe some who shoot better, there are some who probably do some things better. But there is no one in the history of the game who can do what it does throughout the stat sheet. This guy is as high as a player’s level. this league has never seen. “
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