It was reminiscent of the 2015 season finale, when the Pelicans clinched its most recent playoff bid on the back of a stirring win over the Spurs.
NEXT UP Portland and New Orleans return to Moda Center on Wednesday for Game 2 of this best-of-seven series in the First Round of the 2018 NBA Playoffs.
Rondo orchestrated New Orleans' offense with a vintage performance, setting up Davis for a several spectacular dunks and setting up a number of other teammates with close-range shots or open looks from the perimeter.
Davis had plenty of help from Rondo, who dished out a game-high 17 assists to go along with 8 rebounds. The 75 games that Davis played this year matched his career-high from last year and erased any notion that he is injury-prone.
Davis was injured early in the first matchup between these two sides this season and sat out the next, but in the last two, he has been dominant. And without Davis, Cousins scored 38 points in the Pelicans' win on December 27. Instead, New Orleans rallied, going 21-13 the rest of the way and ending the season on a five-game winning streak. They are allowing an average of 110.4 points, placing them 29th overall.
But a dismal first half doomed the Blazers, who surrendered home-court advantage with the loss. Disrupting Damian Lillard with his savvy defense and length, Rondo held Dame to 18 points and 6-of-23 from the field. The 27-year old point guard was sharp in the regular season against the Pelicans, averaging 26.5 points and 7.3 assists. Damon Lillard will have to be at his best also. You know, he was averaging (25.2) points, (12.9) rebounds per game. From the opening tip of game one, they have to be locked in, especially in one of the NBA's most hostile environments. They nearly erased a 19 point deficit and even had a chance to take the lead in the final minute. They are identical to what the players wear before the game when they're doing warm-ups. "Give credit to what they did defensively, they were physical and they were trapping a lot my pick and rolls". "I take pride in my defense".
The Blazers (49-33) came into Wednesday night needing a win against the Utah Jazz (48-34) to secure the No. 3 seed and win the Northwest Division title. Lillard and McCollum should be much better in game two.
"We just had to grind it out", Anthony Davis said after that brutal 3-game stretch.
Most importantly, the Warriors were engaged defensively from the start, holding the Spurs to 40 percent shooting for the game (although the Spurs did go 9-of-22 from three). On the other end of the floor, Pelicans star Anthony Davis hit four free throws in as many tries to seal the victory.
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