NEW ORLEANS — Anthony Davis doesn’t want to carry the Pelicans into the playoffs just so they can get unceremoniously bounced in the first round by NBA-leading Golden State.
Now Davis has some proof to back him up when he claims that young, unpredictable New Orleans could pose a threat to the No. 1 seed.
Davis scored 23 of his 29 points in the second half, including two free throws with 9 seconds left, and the Pelicans moved into eighth place in the Western Conference with a 103-100 victory over the Warriors on Tuesday night.
“We look at ourselves as an elite team. We feel like we can play with anybody and we can beat anybody on any given night,” said Davis, who also grabbed 10 rebounds. “We just got to go out there and play that way.”
The Pelicans moved back into the West’s last playoff spot by a half-game over Oklahoma City, which lost to San Antonio. But nothing was secure until Stephen Curry, who scored 25 points, saw his shot that would have tied the game go in and out as time expired.
Curry had connected five times from 3-point range, and his third and final miss from that distance concluded a bizarre sequence in which it looked like Curry had either been fouled or traveled when he initially went up for a shot against Dante Cunningham.
Curry came back down with the ball after apparent contact and dribbled once when no foul was called. Cunningham stood still, looking confused as Curry put up an uncontested shot.
“I thought I drew the foul on the pump fake because he kind of came to me and I got contact,” Curry said. “The ball dropped and there was obviously no whistle. I got it right back and I had pretty clean look after that that I thought was going in.”
Curry said New Orleans would be “no easy out,” in the playoffs, but added, “We won’t play like we did tonight, regardless of who we play.”
Now New Orleans, which has not participated in the postseason since 2011, has five games left to hold on to a playoff spot and owns a tiebreaker over the Thunder.
The Pelicans erased a 12-point halftime deficit, then needed a late surge to pull out arguably their biggest victory this season.
After Curry’s layup gave the Warriors a 95-92 lead with 3:04 left, the Pelicans responded with an 8-0 run during which they benefited from three Golden State turnovers.
Quincy Pondexter, who had 20 points, began the spurt with his fourth 3 on four attempts to tie it. With 1:21 left, Davis used a pump fake on the perimeter to get past one defender and hit a driving floater as he was fouled by Andrew Bogut.
“We had a heck of a game down the stretch,” Pondexter said. “Everyone’s hungry. We’re young guys, but we’re learning how to win.”
Golden State tied it at 100 on Curry’s 3. Then Tyreke Evans, who scored 12, hit a free throw after hustling to prevent what could have been a costly turnover in the final half-minute. Davis later rebounded Curry’s miss from 8 feet to set up his late free throws.
Draymond Green had 24 points and Bogut blocked a career-high nine shots for Golden State, which has tied its season-high losing streak at a mere two games.
Down 55-43 at halftime, New Orleans stormed back with a 10-0 run to open the third quarter. Bogut went to the bench with four fouls with 9 minutes left in the quarter, removing the defensive presence of a player who’d already blocked eight shots.
Davis wound up with 13 points in the quarter, and New Orleans carried a 79-78 lead into fourth.
“In the second half, we weren’t ready for their desperation,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “The first five minutes of the third quarter is when we lost the game.”
Warriors: Bogut had seven blocks and scored six points in the first half, when the Warriors were plus-17 with him on the floor. … Golden State closed out its regular season road slate at 28-13. … The Warriors have lost two straight four times this season, the last time coming on Jan. 27 (vs. Chicago) and 30 (at Utah).
Pelicans: New Orleans came in having lost its previous 10 to the Warriors, with its last victory in the series coming on April 24, 2012.
Warriors: Host Portland on Thursday night.
Pelicans: Visit Memphis on Wednesday night.