PORTLAND, Ore. — Several times during the three days between the New Orleans Pelicans‘ Game 1 road win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday and their next matchup Tuesday, Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry was asked if he worried his team would be complacent after stealing home-court advantage in the series. Gentry had no such concern.
Why would Gentry worry when he had Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday on his side? While the Blazers found solutions for their shooting struggles in Game 1, Portland couldn’t find a way to stop New Orleans’ stars in a 111-102 Pelicans victory that gives them a commanding 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series heading home for Games 3 and 4.
While Davis was his usual double-double self (22 points, 13 rebounds) and Rajon Rondo finished an assist away from a triple-double (16 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists) in another strong playoff performance, this night belonged to Holiday. When the Blazers were able to get their sellout crowd going, it was Holiday to whom Gentry turned to slow down the Pelicans’ usual fast pace and ensure a good shot.
Taking advantage of New Orleans’ strong floor spacing, Holiday got wherever he wanted off the pick-and-roll, repeatedly reaching the paint to either finish himself or find an open teammate. He finished with 33 points and nine assists.
At the other end of the court, Holiday took a leading role as New Orleans again contained Damian Lillard. While the Blazers got excellent production from role players Al-Farouq Aminu, Zach Collins and Maurice Harkless, as well as 22 points from backcourt-mate CJ McCollum, Lillard struggled to make the playoffs Dame time. He finished with 17 points on 7-of-18 shooting, including six misses on his seven 3-point attempts.
Still, Portland led 100-99 on a Harkless triple with 3:20 to play. The Blazers scored just two points the rest of the way. Nikola Mirotic answered with a 3 at the other end to give the Pelicans the lead, and the score was the same with 1:35 left when Gentry called Holiday’s number after a pair of offensive rebounds. He delivered a pull-up 3-pointer to push the lead to five. Portland would get no closer.