Pelicans Take 2-0 Lead Over Portland, Jrue Holiday Shines
New Orleans Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday put on a basketball clinic in Portland Tuesday night, leading his team past the Trail Blazers 111-102, taking a 2-0 lead in the best of seven series that now shifts back to NOLA for games 3 and 4.
A playoff career high 33 points, 9 assists and shutdown defense highlighted Holiday's night.
"I thought he was really, really good, but he's been really, really good the whole season," said New Orleans Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry. "This isn't a surprise. He's been great the whole season."
Holiday was great in Portland, taking what he wanted offensively off the pick and roll, nailing a clutch 3 pointer late in the 4th quarter of a tight game, and utilizing the floor spacing he got playing next to Anthony Davis.
"Honestly, just really excited," replied Holiday when asked about his mentality. "Really excited to be in the playoffs. Really excited about what the team has accomplished together through the season...Just to be here, I think, as a team, we appreciate that."
And the opponent is appreciating him.
"Jrue Holiday has good length. He has good strength. He's a smart defender," Portland head coach Terry Stotts said. "He's got size. He's got experience. He's always been a good defender. No matter who he's defending, he's always had a career of being a good defensive guard."
Normally displaying a laid back persona on the floor, Holiday was anything but Tuesday night. Emoting throughout the game and exchanging friendly banter with Portland fans who were heckling him, Jrue was enjoying the moment.
"I was just having a friendly conversation with some of the fans," said a smiling Holiday after the win. "Just going back and forth. I feel like that's what they (the Blazer fans) paid for. For us to communicate and talk to them, so that's what I was doing."
Holiday was sensational, and so was point guard Rajon Rondo, who's crafty defense and clutch three pointer in the final minute of play reminded spectators why he got the nickname "playoff Rondo", finishing the night one rebound assist shy of a triple-double (16 points, 10 rebounds, 9 assists).
The Pelicans made history with the win, becoming the first No. 6 seed ever to win the first two games of a first-round NBA playoff series since the league went to best-of-seven format that began in 2003.
Davis put in his usual double-double (22 points, 13 rebounds), while Nikola Mirotic added 17 points and 8 boards.
The series shifts back to New Orleans for game 3 on Thursday night.
"I feel like we all know the crowd in New Orleans and how they are," explained Holiday. "I feel like it's just gonna be crazy. It's gonna be loud. We'll have to communicate even better now because it's gonna be so loud in our arena."
Tip-off from the Smoothie King Center is set for 8:00pm.