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CJ McCollum scores 28 points as Pelicans hold off Warriors 114-109 to help playoff position

By JANIE McCAULEY


AP Sports Writer

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors realize they will have a hard road to reach the playoffs.

CJ McCollum hit a 3-pointer with 1:03 remaining to help seal it and scored 28 points, Zion Williamson had 26 and the New Orleans Pelicans boosted their playoff positioning by beating Golden State 114-109 on Friday night.

New Orleans waited for the Suns-Kings result in Sacramento, won 108-107 by Phoenix, to know whether it would secure the Western Conference’s sixth seed but now everything comes down winning Sunday.

Trey Murphy III converted a pair of free throws with 9 seconds left and finished with 24 points and eight rebounds for New Orleans.

Stephen Curry scored 33 points and hit a 3 with 56 seconds left but missed from the top of the arc with 13 seconds to play, and the Warriors’ loss likely lands them in the 9-10 seeds matchup of the Play-In Tournament on Wednesday.

Now, coach Steve Kerr will prioritize health and consider resting players Sunday to get ready for what could be a wild, exhausting week ahead.

“That team, New Orleans, played an amazing game," Kerr said, "and they had to the way our guys fought."

Klay Thompson added 19 points and six rebounds, Andrew Wiggins scored 18 points and Draymond Green contributed 12 rebounds and 11 assists in just the second loss over the past 11 games for 2022 NBA champion Golden State.

Curry hit a step-back 3-pointer with 7:12 to play to pull the Warriors to 95-92 only for Williamson to answer on the other end. Murphy connected on a timely 3 with 3:45 remaining.

The Pelicans led 88-75 heading into the final 12 minutes but called timeout with 9:30 remaining after back-to-back baskets by Moses Moody got Golden State to 92-83. Chris Paul's 3 at 8:45 made it a six-point game and Thompson connected from deep the next time down before McCollum committed a turnover.

After a slow start, the Pelicans got going used a 29-9 run during a 45-point second quarter and made 10 3-pointers to take control for a 62-48 halftime lead - five of those 3s by McCollum as he scored 15 points in the period.

The Warriors, who had won three straight, were held to 22 points in the second and the 45 points allowed matched their most surrendered in a second quarter this season.

Kerr knew his team needed this one and addressed all the scenarios of the Play-In before the game.

“You get two chances to win one game, you get a chance to move up to the seven seed if you win that seven-eight Play-In game,” he said. "So obviously we want to win every game and put ourselves in the best spot possible.”

Trayce Jackson-Davis hit three of his initial four shots and finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds for his third double-digit scoring performance in the past four games and sixth double-double of his rookie season.

New Orleans began 2 for 12, missing its initial four 3-pointers and fell behind 17-6 in a hurry before getting hot.

“Teams start hitting 3s, it’s contagious,” Jackson-Davis said. “... It’s hard to come back when a team is shooting the lights out.”

The Warriors were missing Jonathan Kuminga because of a bruised tailbone and Gary Payton II with tightness in his left calf.

UP NEXT

Pelicans: Host the Lakers on Sunday looking to split the season series after losing both road contests.

Warriors: Host Utah on Sunday to conclude the regular season having won the last four against the Jazz.

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AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/nba

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