The postseason arrived early on Friday night at Chase Center, with the Golden State Warriors and New Orleans Pelicans engaging in a basketball slugfest that carried massive seeding implications for both teams.

The Dubs won three rounds of the bout, jumping out to an early double-digit lead in the first quarter before out-scoring the Pelicans in both the third quarter and final stanza. New Orleans' utterly dominant second quarter ultimately proved a knockout blow, though, sending Golden State stumbling to 10th in the Western Conference entering Sunday's regular season finale.

The Warriors fell 114-109 to the Pelicans, their long-shot comeback hopes ending for good when Stephen Curry's leaning, potentially game-tying three-pointer between the neverending arms of Herb Jones and Trey Murphy III clanked off the rim with 10 seconds remaining. Murphy grabbed the ensuing defensive rebound, then calmly drained both free throws after a hopeless Warriors challenge proved unsuccessful, sending the home team to a deflating defeat.

Behind another fourth-quarter scoring splurge from Curry and Draymond Green's outstanding individual defense on Zion Williamson, Golden State stayed competitive throughout the second half. But this game was lost far before the final buzzer sounded, when New Orleans delivered a 45-22 haymaker in the second quarter, taking full advantage of the Warriors' whopping nine turnovers while splashing threes from all over the floor.

“Our turnovers killed us. We had really good control of the game in the first quarter, held them to 17 [points], our defense was great. And then we just started turning it over,” Steve Kerr said after the game.. “I thought [Jose] Alvarado came in, put a lot of pressure on the ball and we couldn't execute offensively. They scored 15 points off our turnovers in that quarter alone. That's where the game flipped, for sure.”

The Pelicans shot 10-of-13 from deep in the second quarter alone, with C.J. McCollum and Murphy combining for eight of those makes—many of which came with a defender right in their face, from multiple feet beyond the arc or both. The Dubs were outscored by 27 points on triples as New Orleans went 20-of-38 from deep, swallowing a dose of their own medicine after setting an NBA record for three-point proficiency in Tuesday's victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.

“Tough shots,” Kerr said of the Pelicans' hot shooting night. “I thought our halfcourt defense was great tonight. Our guys were flying out at shooters. Give them credit—they made some really tough shots.

“This is the modern NBA, you know? We made 26 threes in LA the other day; they made 20 tonight,” he continued. “If a team gets hot from three it's really hard to win a game. They made seven more threes than us, but it was the turnovers that led to transition that got them going. You could see that's where they started to pick up their confidence.”

Warriors prepared to rest stars as play-in tournament looms

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry reacts in the second half against the Los Angeles Lakers at Arena
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Curry finished with 33 points, four rebounds and five assists, nearly willing his shorthanded squad—Jonathan Kuminga and Gary Payton II missed Friday's game with minor injuries—to another victory late. The overwhelming Clutch Player of the Year frontrunner dropped 16 points and four threes in the fourth quarter despite turning his right ankle with five-and-a-half minutes remaining, a sequence that resulted in his seventh and final turnover.

Typically magical as he was late, the 36-year-old clearly wasn't himself against the Pelicans while playing yet another high-leverage game on the second leg of a back-to-back. The Sacramento Kings' last-second loss to the Phoenix Suns Friday night kept the Warriors' slim hopes of nabbing the eight-seed alive, but Kerr seemed most interested in getting his veterans some extra rest in Sunday's game against the Utah Jazz.

“Oh, hell yeah,” he responded when asked if he was considering resting players in the season finale. “I mean, you prefer to stay at home, but if you look at what we're facing, it's a gauntlet. You got two play-in games, and then if you win those two, you got a Game 1 48 hours after that. I'm much more interested in our ability to be ready for next week, but we've gotta wait and see how everything shakes out.”

Kerr, to be clear, made those comments before he knew the slumping Kings had suffered yet another defeat. If the Lakers lose to the Pelicans—who may need another win to stay above the play-in fray—and Sacramento somehow falls to the lowly Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday, all Golden State needs to do to finish eighth in the West is beat the rebuilding, decimated Jazz.

A morose Klay Thompson admitted on the postgame podium that squandering a golden opportunity to avoid the 9-10 play-in game “stings a lot.” Asked his thoughts on potentially getting some extra rest ahead of what will be a very brief or physically exhausting postseason run, though, the 34-year-old seemed amenable to Kerr's suggestion.

“It's not the worst thing in the world considering we've played a hectic schedule this last month with a ton of travel,” he said of sitting out vs. Utah. “So, it wouldn't be the worst thing.”