Stephen Curry made the biggest shot.
We all know that. His circus 3-pointer at the end of regulation tied the game for the Warriors, and they eventually brought it home 123-119 in overtime against the Pelicans. The Warriors are now up 3-0 in the series, which means this thing is basically over. We all know that, too.
But the game’s other big shot came a little bit later — by Eric Gordon. And it was every bit as bad as Curry’s was good. Curry’s shot will long be remembered, and rightfully so. But Gordon’s shot will mostly be forgotten, which is good news for him.
Once the game got into overtime, the Warriors took control. But the Pelicans had one more opportunity — with 36 seconds left and just down 1 — after Draymond Green picked up his sixth foul on an over-the-back foul. So, despite giving up a 20-point lead in the fourth quarter, the Pelicans still had an opportunity to win the game in OT when they inbounded with 36.2 seconds left. So, what do you do there?
Do you try for a quick 2-for-1, thinking that if you missed quickly, you’d still be able to get a stop down at the other end, and have one last opportunity? Or do you run your offense, look for a good one, and if it’s a two, it’s a two. and you take it. The thinking there, of course is, let’s tie this thing up and rely on our defense.
The Pelicans did neither. Instead, Gordon took a contested 3-pointer with 25 seconds left on the clock and missed. Just an awful, awful shot.
Had Gordon taken that shot six or seven seconds earlier, you could see his point. Or if he wound up with the ball in his hands as the shot clock wound down, you could see that one, too. But to take a rushed shot there is inexcusable. In the game’s biggest possession, the Pelicans took a horrible shot … but not only that: It was taken at the precise time you WOULDN’T take that shot.
Once Gordon missed the shot, the Pelicans had to start fouling, and after it was all said and done, Curry made two free throws to put the Warriors up 121-118. That situation is an end-of-quarter situation that happens all season long to every team in the league. You have the ball with approximately 35 seconds on the game clock and you make a decision whether to shoot quickly, therefore guaranteeing one more possession, or playing it normally knowing that the other team will have the ball last.
For the Pelicans to take that shot in that situation says a little bit about the team’s coaching and the team’s basketball IQ.
What’s really crazy is something happened after that that might have been even worse.
The Warriors were up 121-119 with 4.9 seconds left in OT, and were inbounding. Stephen Curry received the inbounds pass and Tyreke Evans actually waited to foul. That’s right, he waited to foul. Curry caught the ball and Evans played him tight but didn’t do anything for almost two seconds.
What could he have possibly been thinking there? If you don’t get a steal on the inbounds you foul and you foul as fast as you can. It’s obvious. Well, apparently not. Because there were 3.2 seconds left when Curry sealed the game with two makes. That means Evans didn’t foul right away … he was either content to just play defense and have the clock run out or he didn’t know time and/or situation.
That’s not good. Maybe not quite as bad as Gordon’s ill-advised 3, but still not good.