Stephen Curry explodes for 41 points as Pelicans’ play-in tournament hopes dim even further

Over the past two seasons, the New Orleans Pelicans have played in only a few games with actual stakes. In the handful that they have been involved in, they’ve failed miserably.

During the NBA restart last season, they went 2-6, face-planting against what was supposed to be an easy schedule. This season, in the two games they’ve had during the stretch run against teams they are in direct competition with for the Western Conference play-in tournament, they have come up empty both times.

Monday, the Pelicans looked flat from the start against the Golden State Warriors. They fell behind by 18 points in the first quarter, a hole they were unable to overcome in a 123-108 loss at Smoothie King Center. New Orleans (29-36) dropped to four games behind ninth-place Golden State (33-32) with only seven regular-season games remaining.

Stephen Curry, who entered the game averaging 31.3 points, the most in the NBA, put on a show. The Warriors’ star guard sank 3s from everywhere, even with the defense heavily focused on him. He had 17 points in the first quarter, and he finished with a game-high 41.

“The game was basically decided in the first quarter,” coach Stan Van Gundy said. “After that, there were runs both ways. I thought we did a good job in the third getting back into it early. Then they made another run. We were just in too big of a hole. Frustrating night.”…

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