Poole’s career-high 38 points lead Warriors past Pelicans
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Jordan Poole scored a go-ahead layup with 21.4 seconds left and made two free throws with less than a second remaining on the way to a career-high 38 points despite an ankle injury scare in the third quarter, and the Golden State Warriors held off the New Orleans Pelicans 125-122 on Friday night while Stephen Curry and other stars rested with injuries.
Nickeil Alexander-Walker scored 30 points and put New Orleans ahead with 25.9 seconds left, answering Eric Paschall’s basket for the Warriors 33 seconds after his offensive rebound.
“He came back on fire,” Golden State’s Mychal Mulder said of Poole playing on a tender ankle. “I think that just speaks to his toughness and his character and his will to win. That’s something that he’s got and it’s impressive.”
Mulder added a career-high 28 points as the Warriors won their fifth straight game — all at home, including back-to-back victories Monday and Tuesday against two top West teams in Utah and Phoenix.
Poole shot 12 for 22 in his first career 30-point performance and third straight game with 20-plus points. Mulder had his third 20-point game and made seven 3-pointers.
Poole limped to the locker room with 9:52 remaining in the third quarter — two points shy of his career high in points — then re-emerged with ice wrapped around the ankle. He returned to the floor about four minutes later on a night House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sat in the first row of seats above the Pelicans bench.
“You always are terrified when somebody goes down with a rolled ankle because you just don’t know how bad it is, but fortunately it wasn’t too bad,” coach Steve Kerr said. “I was really surprised when he came back in the game.”
Golden State’s supporting cast again showed its talent on a night Curry and Draymond Green were among the Warriors regulars rested by Kerr. Curry is still bothered by a tender tailbone he hurt falling hard on metal steps March 17 at Houston. Andrew Wiggins missed his first game of the season and has been nursing a sore left knee in recent weeks.
Kerr wants his team in top form for Sunday’s game that will determine seeding: The Warriors must beat Memphis to secure the No. 8 seed and if they lose will wind up ninth. The eighth seed will play its first game on the road at the seventh seed while the No. 9 team hosts the 10th seed.
The Warriors had been with just eight healthy players in recent weeks, but welcomed back Paschall from a 21-game absence for a strained left hip flexor and he scored 12 points. In addition, Jordan Bell was signed to a two-way contract Thursday for a second stint with the Warriors.
Paschall entered at the 4:31 mark of the opening quarter for his first action since April 2.
Golden State’s 41 points in the first quarter were a season high and the team’s sixth 40-point quarter overall.
“We didn’t try at all in the first half,” Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy said. “We didn’t try, we didn’t focus, we made no effort whatsoever.”
Kerr asked Wiggins if it mattered to him to play all 72 games and the veteran forward opted to instead be most fresh for Sunday’s game that will determine positioning.
“It was good to be able to get him a night to recover where he doesn’t have to play and hopefully the knee will calm down a little bit the next couple of days,” Kerr said. “He said he’ll be ready to go Sunday.”
Bell played 15 minutes and was greeted by “Welcome back to the Bay!” when he entered with 2:06 left in the first.
He spent the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons with Golden State. He most recently signed a 10-day contract with the Washington Wizards at the end of April and appeared in five games, scoring 14 points and grabbing 19 rebounds.
Pelicans: Brandon Ingram (sprained left ankle) and Steven Adams (sprained right big toe) remained out and are expected to also miss Sunday’s regular-season finale. “Yeah they’re both out, and going ahead I don’t think we’re going to see them again in these last two games,” Van Gundy said. Wes Iwundu could be back from a sprained left shoulder. ... New Orleans finished its season road schedule with a 13-23 record and 7-14 vs. the Western Conference. ... The Pelicans have lost 26 of their last 30 regular-season meetings against the Warriors.
Warriors: Curry received his Western Conference Player of the Month trophy from general manager Bob Myers before the game. The two-time MVP averaged 37.3 points and 6.1 rebounds for April while making an NBA-record 3-pointers for a single month with 96. ... Kerr plans an update this weekend on the status of G Kelly Oubre Jr., who missed his 15th game because of a sore left wrist. ... Golden State lost 108-103 at New Orleans on May 4 after a 123-108 road win the night before.
Pelicans: Host the Lakers on Sunday night having lost four of five in the series and eight of 10.
Warriors: Host the Grizzlies on Sunday afternoon with seeding at stake.
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