NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - While the Pelicans were still very much in the game when they fell behind 14-4 on Sunday, you could tell from the intensity that Golden State brought that this would be no walk in the park for New Orleans.
You can praise their "Hampton's Five" lineup all you want, but no matter what combination of players they had on the court, they were more successful on both ends of the floor.
"The game gets harder for the other team when you bring that kind of force," says Warriors Head Coach Steve Kerr. "That's what happened in Game 3 to us. They took it to us, and the game was hard."
And just like Golden State in Game 3, the Pelicans failed to recover in Game 4. For a few minutes in the second quarter, they were within single digits. But halftime cooled them off, and a 10-2 Warriors run to start the third quarter all but ended New Orleans' hope.
"I know it sounds crazy because you think everybody's going to bring the force every playoff game," says Kerr. "But there's a combination of force and execution. And if you can set that tone early like we did tonight, then you're in a good place."
Part of that can be chalked up to experience. The Warriors have been in this position and beyond time and time again. Their starting lineup and most of their bench has a lot of deep playoff experience. It's hard to bring the same high-level energy every night, but to beat a team like Golden State, you have to bring it most nights.
However, after dropping Game 4 on their home court, the Pelicans have no more room for error. They'll have to exceed the Warriors' energy and effort every game from here on out if they want to keep their season alive. That's easier said than done in Oracle Arena.
"We have won there," says Gentry. "It's going to be a hard, hard thing to do. You've got to go there with the understanding that we're going to play and give everything that we have."
The Pelicans are used to having their backs against the wall. They've overcome more adversity than any team remaining in the playoffs. But now they'll have to be at their very best against the very best to extend the series.