Warriors rebound from opening loss by beating Pelicans

(Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images)

(TSX / STATS) -- NEW ORLEANS -- The NBA has seen Kevin Durant fill up the basket with arching jumpers from the perimeter and high-flying dunks at the end of fast breaks. It is just now seeing him take control of a game on defense.

The 7-foot Golden State forward became a rim-protecting legend Friday night in the Warriors' 128-120 win over the New Orleans Pelicans at the Smoothie King Center.

Durant posted a career-high seven blocks. Two of his rejections, which came in a bang-bang exchange with Pelicans forward Tony Allen in the second quarter, came while Durant was sliding around the floor on one shoe, having to toss his other shoe in the direction of the Pelicans' bench in order to play defense.

"That's probably a record," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said with a laugh. "I thought KD's defense changed the game for us. We didn't have much bite to the game in the first half, and then KD's shot challenges and ball pressure in the second half were amazing, and that changed things."

Durant, who scored 22 points, said he hadn't had much experience playing defense with one shoe.

"Luckily, Tony Allen just put the ball right in my face and paused, and I was able to block his shot," Durant said. "But yeah, it was a good, all-around game for us. The first quarter obviously wasn't good defensively, but after that we played Warrior basketball."

The Pelicans (0-2) made eight 3-pointers in the first quarter and led 39-26, but they could not maintain the shooting pace in the face of the Warriors' suffocating defense.

Anthony Davis led the Pelicans with 35 points and 17 rebounds -- his final statistics are considered unofficial because of a computer crash in the final seven minutes of the game that the NBA office was working to resolve -- but it wasn't enough.

"We played great basketball, and you have to understand that they're the world champs," Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. "We knew that they were going to make a run back at us and they did it. I thought we sustained the energy level that we needed to. Once again, we weren't going to make all of the shots that we were making early on."

Golden State forward David West said nothing amazes him about Durant and what he can do on the court.

"There are times he dunks the ball and he's almost on his tippy toes on the ground," West said. "I don't know how long that is. That's a part of who we are. He's 7 feet, so at times he's our best rim protector, particularly when he's in rotation and he gets a step or two. He can really cover some ground."

Unofficial statistics also had Klay Thompson with 33 points and Steph Curry with 28. Thompson said he is pleased with his start after getting out of the blocks slowly last season.

"Obviously, I've had a better start to the season this year," Thompson said. "I'm not satisfied though, because we're still 1-1. I got some good looks -- some open threes -- and it's easy to get rhythm."

The Warriors will finish their three-game road trip with games Saturday night against Memphis and Monday night against Dallas.

The Warriors used a 29-4 run bridging the final 1:57 of the first half and the first 3:57 of the third quarter to take a 77-66 lead. Thompson played a key role, blocking a perimeter shot by Jrue Holiday and then racing down court for a dunk.

Thompson added a 3-pointer on the Warriors' next possession, and Golden State led 98-90 after three.

NOTES: The Warriors have beaten the Pelicans in 22 of their last 23 meetings, including the last 12 and a 4-0 playoff sweep in 2015. ... Warriors G Shaun Livingston played in his 700th career regular-season game. ... Pelicans reserve C Alexis Ajinca is expected to miss four to six weeks after receiving shots in each knee for patellar tendinitis. ... Former Warriors G Ian Clark, who signed with the Pelicans in the offseason, will wait until Nov. 25 when New Orleans plays at Golden State to get his NBA championship ring. They look nice," Clark said. "I'm excited to get mine."

Updated October 21, 2017

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