NEW ORLEANS • In the last five years, the Golden State Warriors have never had to use phrases like "growing pains" or "baby steps", but that is what the revamped National Basketball Association (NBA) team must come to terms with in their new reality.
Coming off the debacles against the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Los Angeles Clippers, their trip to play the New Orleans Pelicans was about which team could best overcome their transition issues.
Both went into Monday night's game with a raft of key men on the sidelines. The hosts, still adapting to losing Anthony Davis, were missing Jrue Holiday, Zion Williamson and Derrick Favors.
The visitors fared little better on the injury front with Kevon Looney, Willie Cauley-Stein, Alec Burke, Alen Smailagic and Klay Thompson all out.
But while the Warriors remain a work in progress - they are top-heavy while light on defence - it may be too early to write off their play-off chances as many predicted after heavy losses in their opening two games of the campaign.
Stephen Curry scored 26 points and Draymond Green bagged a triple-double - adding 16 with 17 rebounds and 10 assists - as Steve Kerr's team bounced back to down the Pelicans 120-92 at the Smoothie King Centre.
New recruit D'Angelo Russell also made a big contribution, finishing with 24 points, but with three of their starting line-up including Jordan Poole and Glenn Robinson III only arriving in the summer, the onus is on their two most experienced players to raise their game.
Acknowledging the need to step up, Green said: "I have to be (a leader). The first two nights I wasn't at all. My energy was worse than everybody else.
"If I want us to have a successful year and teach these guys how to be successful, I have to bring that energy. We've just been talking about competing at an NBA level.
"First couple of nights, we didn't compete at a level of an NBA game.
"But the guys got fired up and came out, and played with some energy and the result was different for us. We'll get better and better as we get more experience.
"Unfortunately, that's the one thing you can't make up for, but if we compete like we competed tonight, we can live with the results."
In Houston, James Harden scored a game-high 40 points, and Russell Westbrook, playing against his former team for the first time, finished an assist shy of his second consecutive triple-double as the Rockets clinched a 116-112 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The latter had 21 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists, while Chris Paul posted 15 points in his first return to the Toyota Centre.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, NYTIMES, REUTERS
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