Davis stars in Pelicans’ impressive sweep of Trail Blazers
NEW ORLEANS — Anthony Davis scored 33 of his franchise playoff-record 47 points in the second half, and the New Orleans Pelicans completed a first-round playoff sweep of the Portland Trail Blazers with a 131-123 victory on Saturday.
Jrue Holiday capped his 41-point performance with an 18-foot pull-up jumper that gave the Pelicans a six-point lead with 40 seconds left.
Rajon Rondo added 16 assists, and Davis also had 11 rebounds and three blocks for New Orleans, which is moving on to the second round of the playoffs for only the second time since the NBA returned to the city 16 seasons ago.
C.J. McCollum scored 38 for the Trail Blazers, who responded to a blowout loss in Game 3 by keeping Game 4 close until the final minute. Al-Farouq Aminu scored 27, Damian Lillard added 18 points and Jusuf Nurkic had 18 points and 11 rebounds before fouling out.
Lillard’s difficult driving layup had just tied the game at 60 when the Pelicans briefly pulled away, going on an 11-2 run capped by Davis’ 3.
Soon after, Nikola Mirotic added step-back 3. Davis, who scored 19 in the third quarter, then added a layup while falling down after a hard foul by Aminu, after which Davis flexed both biceps while still sitting on the court.
Holiday’s transition 3 made it 87-72, prompting Portland to call timeout while Holiday walked slowly toward mid-court, nodding and smiling wide as he soaked in the crowd’s adulation.
New Orleans led by 13 to start the fourth quarter, but Portland refused to wilt, opening the period on a 15-4 run that included Nurkic’s hook shot, 20-foot jumper and dunk. McCollum’s transition layup made it 104-102 with nearly nine minutes to play.
Portland got as close as a single point on Aminu’s layup with 5:08 to go, but Davis responded with 12 points over the final 4:56, staring with a layup as he was fouled and a 3-pointer. Holiday scored six points during the final 2:52, starting with his 3-pointer. The pair combined for all but one of New Orleans’ points during that pivotal stretch.
Leading up to Game 4, Lillard spoke of the need for the Blazers to ramp up their intensity and physicality. From the tip, it looked as though they’d done so.
In stark contrast to Game 3, when New Orleans led by 18 in the first quarter, this game was tight and testy.
Anthony and Ed Davis received double technical fouls after bumping one another following one of Anthony Davis’ dunks — and that was just the beginning.
McCollum was called for a flagrant foul when he stormed into the lane behind E’Twaun Moore and grabbed the Pelicans guard by the shoulders to thwart a driving layup attempt. Moore then shoved McCollum and was assessed a technical foul.
And in the final seconds of the half, double technical were assessed to Rondo and Portland center Zach Collins after Rondo lowered his forehead into Collins’ chest and Collins shoved back.
When halftime arrived, New Orleans led 58-56.
Trail Blazers: Played without 6-foot-9 forward Maurice Harkless. Coach Terry Stotts said Harkless, who’d started Game 3 when Turner was out, had a recurrence of knee soreness that had hampered him late this season. Stotts said that while Harkless was in too much pain to play, his knee did not appear to have structural damage. … Became the first No. 3 seed to lose in the first round since Denver lost to Golden State in the 2013 playoffs. … The Blazers fell to 6-7 in first round playoff series in which they had home-court advantage. … McCollum was Portland’s leading scorer during the series, averaging 25.3.
Pelicans: Mirotic had 10 points and 11 rebounds. … Moore finished with 14 points. … Captured the first playoff sweep in the franchise’s 16-year history … Committed 14 turnovers, with Holiday committing seven.
Trail Blazers: Begin the offseason.
Pelicans: Prepare for a second-round series for the first time since 2008.
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