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Warriors aim to grab No. 3 seed with win over Pelicans

Apr 9, 2022; San Antonio, Texas, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (23) reacts during the second half against the San Antonio Spurs at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

The Golden State Warriors helped the New Orleans Pelicans earn a home game in the Western Conference play-in tournament.

And the Warriors still can improve their own postseason positioning when they visit the Pelicans in the regular-season finale for both teams Sunday night.

The Warriors (52-29) guaranteed that the Pelicans would host San Antonio in the game between the ninth- and 10th-place finishers in the Western Conference on Wednesday night when they beat the Spurs 100-94 on Saturday.

Golden State can clinch the third spot in the West either by beating New Orleans or if fourth-place Dallas loses at home to the Spurs on Sunday.

Jonathan Kuminga and Jordan Poole scored a team-high 18 points against the Spurs and Draymond Green had 12 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists.

“I thought he was the best player on the floor,” Golden State coach Steve Kerr said of Green. “His energy was great. He came out ready to play. That’s a great sign. He knows the playoffs are next week. And since he came back a few weeks ago, I thought this was the best he’s looked physically.”

Poole shot just 3 for 19 from the floor, but he made all 11 of his free throw attempts, including eight in the fourth quarter. He scored 10 of his team’s final 12 points.

“He was laboring out there,” Kerr said. “I was really proud of him. There are nights when the ball doesn’t go in the hoop and it’s just so important to keep playing and keep fighting. I thought he made huge plays down the stretch.”

The victory at San Antonio was the Warriors’ fourth straight even though Stephen Curry (foot) remained sidelined, but Kerr said he expects him to be ready for the start of the playoffs. Klay Thompson missed his fourth straight game as part of the injury management for his surgically repaired Achilles.

The Pelicans (36-45) missed an opportunity to clinch ninth place when they were blown out at Memphis 141-114, but it didn’t matter when the Warriors beat the Spurs less than three hours later.

“It just felt like (the Grizzlies) were more ready than us,” said forward Jaxson Hayes, who scored 13 points. “They came out aggressive, got up into us and just kind of pressured us the whole game. It was hard to get anything going.”

CJ McCollum led the Pelicans with 16 points, but made just 6 of 17 shots from the floor.

“It was a tough night for CJ, tough night for me, tough night for our group,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said. “The whole game we could’ve been better. The third quarter was by far our worst.”

The Pelicans saw the Grizzlies score a franchise-record 55 points in the third quarter on their way to handing New Orleans one of its most lopsided defeats of the season.

One of those big losses came against the Warriors, 126-85 on Nov. 5 in San Francisco. The Pelicans won the other meeting between the two, 101-96 on Jan. 6 in New Orleans.

New Orleans has played the past two games without second-leading scorer Brandon Ingram (hamstring tightness), who’s questionable for Sunday’s game.

–Field Level Media