The Golden State Warriors earned their first win of the 2019-20 NBA season by topping the New Orleans Pelicans 134-123 Monday night at Smoothie King Center.
After suffering back-to-back double-digit losses to start the season, Golden State put together its most cohesive performance yet with an altered lineup. Draymond Green, who succinctly said Sunday the Warriors "f--king suck right now," made a statement with a triple-double.
New Orleans was without rookie top overall pick Zion Williamson as he continues to recover from knee surgery as well as Jrue Holiday with a knee sprain.
The Pelicans remain winless through their first four games.
PG Stephen Curry: 26 points, 3 rebounds, 11 assists, 3 steals
PF Draymond Green: 16 points, 17 rebounds, 10 assists, 2 steals
SG D'Angelo Russell: 24 points, 7 rebounds, 8 assists
SF Glenn Robinson III: 12 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 1 block
SG Jordan Poole: 13 points, 1 rebound, 2 steals
SG Damion Lee: 23 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists
PF Brandon Ingram: 27 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals
PG Lonzo Ball: 12 points, 4 rebounds, 9 assists, 2 steals
SF JJ Redick: 5 points, 1 rebound, 3 assists, 2 blocks
SG Josh Hart: 12 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 block
C Jaxson Hayes: 19 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 block
Small Ball Unlocks Warriors' Offensive Potential
Monday night was one of firsts for the 2019-20 Warriors, and most of them can be attributed to head coach Steve Kerr's decision to go with a small starting lineup in guards Stephen Curry, D'Angelo Russell and Jordan Poole alongside forwards Green and Glenn Robinson III.
For the first time in this young season, all five Warriors starters finished as double-digit scorers—led by Green's triple-double, his first of the season.
Rookie first-rounder Poole notched his first NBA start and made his first three three-pointers in the first quarter to help the Warriors to an early 17-8 lead in a game in which Golden State never trailed:
Green's 17 rebounds were the second-most he's had in a regular-season game since entering the NBA, according to Bay Area News Group's Dieter Kurtenbach, and his 10 assists superseded the five he recorded through the previous two games combined. The 29-year-old set the tone from the start:
Curry and Russell were also exceptional when it came to facilitating the offense, and a glimpse of Curry Past made an appearance when the two-time MVP drained a 29-footer:
Prior to the Warriors' date with the Pelicans, Kerr was asked if Curry taking more threes was the answer for Golden State's feeble offense. His response, per ESPN's Nick Friedell:
"I don't know that it's that simple. We could turn him into James Harden and give him the ball every play. That's really hard to do and you have to build a team for that. Houston has put five shooters on the floor for years now with Harden to give him that space. We don't have that kind of personnel, so there's not the same spacing.
"And that kind of basketball wears you out, too. Especially for a guy who's 180 pounds like Steph is. So I don't think the answer is just to run a million high screens. We don't really have the personnel for that. And I don't think it makes a ton of sense from Steph's standpoint."
Monday night's performance will be a better gauge for the offense moving forward, particularly Green's role at center to anchor the small starting five and open up space to best utilize Curry:
According to ESPN Stats & Info, the Warriors are 23-0 when Green records a triple-double in the regular season.
While the team's first win in a long season didn't provide the solution for this new-look and much younger Golden State team, it did provide clues that the Warriors can build upon during their upcoming four-game homestand and beyond.
Jaxson Hayes Lone Bright Spot for Reeling Pelicans in Loss
While the Pelicans await the delayed debut of Williamson, rookie eighth overall pick Jaxson Hayes made his debut.
Hayes' successful appearance off the bench is the only positive the winless Pelicans can take from their blowout loss against the Warriors, as New Orleans trailed by as many as 29 before making a surge in garbage time.
The 19-year-old center entered the game in the final seconds of the first quarter, and his first contribution came early in the second quarter when he blocked Curry:
Three minutes later, his first NBA points came in the form of a dunk. And before halftime, Hayes emphasized his presence with an alley-oop dunk:
An argument could be made for Josh Hart scoring in double digits for the fourth consecutive game to start the season as another bright spot, but Hart's scoring didn't make a difference for the Pelicans, while Hayes showed he can provide a much-needed spark in the paint until Williamson is healthy.
Hayes' emergence also had to do with starting center Derrick Favors (right knee soreness) missing Monday night's matchup.
As young as this New Orleans core is, ugly losses like this early in the season with three key players banged-up should serve as a testing ground for head coach Alvin Gentry to see who his pillars should be moving forward.
Furthering that point was veteran JJ Redick going 1-of-10 from the field (1-of-9 from three) and scoring just five points in 25 minutes of action. The only starting Pelican to perform as poorly was center Jahlil Okafor, whom Hayes outperformed.
Golden State will look to build on Monday's result against the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night back home at the Chase Center.
New Orleans will try for its first win of the season when the Denver Nuggets come to town Thursday night.