Pelicans' 'crazy season' ends against Warriors
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The Golden State Warriors play two more games before they start their playoff run.
The New Orleans Pelicans play one more game before they start their offseason.
When the Pelicans conclude a disappointing, playoff-less season by hosting the Warriors on Tuesday night, it will mark the second consecutive year that New Orleans' season has ended with a game against Golden State.
The Warriors, who beat the Pelicans four games to one in a Western Conference semifinal series on their way to the NBA title last season, are in strong position to win a third consecutive championship, especially after clinching home-court advantage throughout the Western Conference playoffs with a 131-104 victory against the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday.
It was the last regular-season game for the Warriors in Oracle Arena, their home for the last 47 seasons. Golden State (56-24) will visit Memphis on Wednesday to conclude the regular season.
There was plenty of nostalgia and celebration in the building on Sunday, but it was merely a prelude to the Warriors undertaking the next step in their latest championship quest.
"Hopefully we'll have another sendoff in a grander manner," coach Steve Kerr said. "Since it's not really the last game here, I know it's a ceremonial final game, I didn't get too sentimental or emotional or anything because hopefully we will be coming back here and playing a lot more games in the next couple months."
It remains to be seen how much Kerr plays his starters in the last two games, but the team has been rolling toward the postseason, having won its five games by an average margin of 22.4 points.
"It we play this way (in the playoffs), we're in good shape," forward Kevin Durant said. "We should be solid. I like where we are."
Tuesday's game will probably mark the last time that All-Star forward Anthony Davis appears in the Smoothie King Center as a Pelican, although he's not expected to play because of back spasms.
Davis demanded a trade in late January and New Orleans is expected to accommodate him during the summer, a year before he is able to become a free agent after being unable to negotiate a satisfactory deal before the February trade deadline.
It's possible that this game will also be the last as a Pelican for fourth-year coach Alvin Gentry, whose fate is expected to be decided by whomever the franchise hires as general manager to replace Dell Demps, who was fired in February.
New Orleans has been plagued by injuries throughout the season and it dressed just eight players at Sacramento on Sunday after deciding to give forward Julius Randle a much-needed rest.
The team responded with just its third victory in 15 games as all five starters had scored in double figures by the middle of the third quarter.
The Pelicans' stretch run has primarily been an audition for role players trying to earn a spot on the soon-to-be-rebuilt team going forward.
Ian Clark was the latest player to stand out, making a career-high seven 3-pointers on his way to 31 points, his most in two seasons as a Pelican, in the 133-129 victory over the Kings.
"He's playing great down the stretch," said point guard Elfrid Payton, who had 26 points and 14 assists. "He's getting some minutes, and he's showing what he can do. I've seen him put in work all year, so this doesn't surprise me."
Tuesday's game marks the Warriors' first in New Orleans since the playoff series last season.
"It's going to put a cap onto a crazy season," Payton said.
--Field Level Media
Updated April 8, 2019