OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Stephen Curry Show at Oracle Arena remains one of the most exciting spectacles in sports.
The two-time MVP, who hadn't played since March 23 because of an MCL sprain in his left knee, electrified the sellout crowd of 19,586 by dropping in 28 points and grabbing seven rebounds in Tuesday's 121-116 win over the New Orleans Pelicans in Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals. The Warriors lead the series 2-0.
In what came as a bit of a surprise before tip off, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr decided to bring in Curry off the bench in his return game, limiting him to only 27 minutes -- but the point guard still made the biggest difference for the veteran group by registering a plus-26 plus/minus -- while reinforcing that the Warriors appear to be hitting their stride at the right moment.
After racking up a triple-double in Game 1, Draymond Green had another big performance Tuesday night scoring 20 points, dishing out 12 assists and grabbing 9 rebounds. As much as the Warriors fed off the emotion of Curry's return, it was Green who provided an important energy jolt at various points in the game when his team needed one. Kevin Durant led all scorers with 29 points (on 11-of-23 shooting) and added 6 rebounds and 7 assists.
The Pelicans can take solace in the fact that they had an answer for each of the Warriors' runs throughout the majority of the game. But as was the case in Game 1, the Warriors proved to have too much talent -- beating the Pelicans at their own up-and-down game.
After a poor offensive performance in Game 1, Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday responded with a solid night of 24 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists, and Anthony Davis chipped in with 25 points and 15 rebounds of his own. Rajon Rondo had 20 points, 12 assists and 7 rebounds, but the Pelicans' trio didn't have an answer as Curry and Durant made plays in the waning minutes.
The scariest part for the Pelicans is that they did a solid job defensively for most of the night -- especially on Klay Thompson who finished just 4-for-20 from the field -- but they still lost.
To find a victory in this series, the Pelicans are going to have to play close to a perfect game because their margin of error is so slim. Curry's presence back in the Warriors' lineup gives Golden State the type of championship swagger that has defined it over the past four seasons.
Game 3 is Friday night in New Orleans.