Pelicans Ravage Blazers To Take Commanding 3-0 Series Lead
"MVP" chants rang through the Smoothie King Center Thursday night as Anthony Davis checked out of the game in the 4th quarter, waving his hands up in the air to a home crowd that never wavered, as his team was cruising to a 119-102 victory and a commanding 3-0 playoff series lead.
"It feels great," said Davis after the win. "We came out firing on defense. Playing for each other. Flying around. We played great offensively throughout the course of the game."
Davis finished with a typical stat line for him, going for 28 points,11 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 blocks, fueling an energy from start to finish that was shared by the entire Pelicans roster.
Davis' frontcourt running mate led all scorers. Nikola Mirotic finished with 30 points, 8 rebounds, 3 steals and 1 block. His 14 points in the first quarter helped New Orleans build a 36-20 lead after the first 12 minutes, a lead that Portland could never trim down to single digits.
"His presence on the court really opens things up for them," said Portland head coach Terry Stotts. "It opens up the middle for penetration. It opens up the middle for Davis. He's a smart basketball player. He knows how to get shots. He knows how to space and cut."
Mirotic, who shaved his beard several weeks ago after going through a shooting slump, has played top level basketball since, keeping his facial hair at bay. He showed up at a postgame press conference with a clean shave, taking a razor to his 3:00 shadow as soon as the game ended.
Will he keep shaving?
"I have to now," said Mirotic. "It's too late to let it grow. Its just been fun. I feel good being shaved."
His teammates won't take any chances either. After leaving his razor at the team hotel in Portland before game 2, Anthony Davis sent rookie Charles Cooke to Target to buy Mirotic a razor.
"Niko really got us off to a good start," said Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry.
A strong start. A strong finish. And a strong everything in between. It was all Pelicans Thursday night, but they're not done yet.
"We've seen some crazy stuff happen," said guard Jrue Holiday when asked if they were feeling comfortable with a 3-0 series lead. "We want to take care of business."
Teams that led a best-of-seven series 3-0 in NBA history have won the series 127 out of 127 times.
Holiday and point guard Rajon Rondo finished with 32 points and 18 assists between the two of them, continuing their smothering defense on Portland's standout backcourt of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.
The Pelicans will attempt to procure their first playoff sweep in franchise history Saturday afternoon in New Orleans. Game 4 will tip off at 4:00.