SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Slowly but surely Steve Kerr is seeing growth in Golden State. Having D’Angelo Russell around to take big shots at key times certainly helps.
Russell made a tiebreaking 22-foot jumper with 32.9 seconds remaining, and the struggling Warriors won after blowing a 20-point lead, beating the New Orleans Pelicans 106-102 on Friday night in a matchup of the worst teams in the West.
“That’s who he is. He’s built in that way, to close a game, because he’s not afraid to miss,” Kerr said. “You can’t worry about missing. D-Lo’s never worried about that. With Steph (Curry) and Klay (Thompson) out, he’s a guy we have to rely on.”
Russell finished with 25 points and seven assists as the Warriors (6-24) snapped a five-game losing streak with their second win over the Pelicans (7-23) this season.
Damion Lee had 20 points and six rebounds for Golden State. Draymond Green added 10 points and eight assists.
Jrue Holiday and Brandon Ingram scored 25 points apiece for New Orleans. Lonzo Ball had 14 points.
The Warriors jumped on the Pelicans early on, but New Orleans rallied to take an 81-78 lead on Holiday’s 39-foot buzzer-beater to end the third.
Holiday stayed hot in the fourth quarter and made a 20-foot jumper that put the Pelicans ahead 97-91.
Golden State trailed 98-93 before ripping off seven straight points. After Ingram made a pair of free throws, Russell made the go-ahead jumper just inside the arc.
“That’s our growth,” Russell said. “I always say young teams find a way to lose at the end of games. Older teams don’t do that. They’re solid the course of the game. That’s where our growth was today. We made that free throw, we made that extra rebound, we got that stop.”
New Orleans lost two nights after beating Minnesota on the road to end a 13-game losing streak.
“We didn’t establish anything until the second quarter so already we (were) behind the eight ball,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. “From the second quarter on we did a good job but obviously D-Lo made some pretty big shots. That’s what he’s supposed to do. We have to find a way to win that game.”
Pelicans: J.J. Redick made four 3-pointers in the third quarter. He finished with 14 points.
Warriors: Lee had 10 points in the first quarter. … Green picked up his sixth technical foul of the season in the third. … Injured star Curry made a rare appearance and sat on the bench. The two-time MVP drew a rousing ovation when he was shown on the giant video screen. … Eric Paschall left in the second quarter with a right knee injury and was being evaluated after the game.
WILLIAMSON ON SLOW ROAD BACK
Zion Williamson continues to make steady progress in his rehabilitation from right knee surgery, although New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry is not yet ready to set a timetable for the No. 1 overall pick in the draft.
“I don’t know if there’s a one, two, three, four (steps) towards when he gets back out there,” Gentry said. “We are going to be overly cautious, I know that. He’s making normal progress in a situation like this. It’s just not going to be anything that we are going to rush.”
Warriors: Host Minnesota on Monday night. The Timberwolves beat Golden State 125-109 in overtime on Nov. 8.
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