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– Anthony Davis stole the show and the New Orleans Pelicans stole home-court advantage from the Portland Trail Blazers.Davis had 35 points Kevin Hayes Jersey , 14 rebounds and four blocks, Jrue Holiday and Rajon Rondo won the backcourt battle, and the Pelicans held on for a 97-95 victory on Saturday night in Game 1 of their Western Conference first-round series.
Holiday added 21 points, outplaying both Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, and had a big blocked shot in the closing seconds as New Orleans escaped after Portland erased almost all of a 19-point deficit.
”It’s the playoffs,” Holiday said of his final block. ”A lot of excitement and a lot of energy especially in the building. Obviously, that was a really big stop and at that moment it felt good to get a stop. It felt good to know that all the hard work we put in this game, we got the win, so we did a really good job at that.”
Rondo finished with 17 assists, eight rebounds and six points.
Portland made a charge that cut it to 93-92 on McCollum’s 3-pointer just inside a minute left. Lillard missed in the lane with 15 seconds remaining with the Blazers still down one, and after Davis made two free throws, Holiday blocked Pat Connaughton’s layup with 6.3 seconds to go.
Blazers coach Terry Stotts and several players said that the play was designed for a 3-pointer, but the Pelicans successfully took those options away.
Perhaps that had something to do with Rondo knowing everything the Blazers were ready to throw at them and relaying that knowledge to his teammates.
”He’s in a different mindset,” Davis said. ”He was up all night watching film. When they were calling plays out there he was telling us what it was in our version before they had a chance to run it. He’s definitely locked in. The way he played tonight with 17 assists, he’s just in a different mode for the playoffs.”
Lillard finished with 18 points, seven rebounds and seven assists Womens Tom Pyatt Jersey , while McCollum had 19 points.
The sixth-seeded Pelicans were the only road team to win on the opening day of the NBA playoffs. Nikola Mirotic had 16 points, 11 rebounds and also blocked four shots to help Davis earn the first victory of his playoff career.
It looked like it would come easily, as the Pelicans extended a nine-point halftime lead to 69-50 on Holiday’s dunk with 4:25 left in the third quarter. It still seemed safe when Davis threw down a thunderous alley-oop slam from Rondo with 6:09 to play, letting out a scream as Portland took an 86-72 lead.
Portland’s rally came up short, but the Blazers vow to do better in Game 2 with regards to going after Davis.
”Getting to the basket, he’s around,” McCollum said. ”You know, he blocked my shot in the first quarter, maybe made some contact. But he’s always there, he’s always around roaming. But there’s no excuses. We got to play better.”
Portland’s two stars finished with just three combined free-throw attempts. McCollum says it’s on them to force the issue.
”Maybe we need to be more aggressive getting downhill,” McCollum said. ”You’ve got to figure out how the referees are reffing the game and go from there.”
TIP-INS
Pelicans: New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry is a believer in ”Playoff Rondo,” the idea of Rondo elevating his game in the postseason. ”I think there is a sense of confidence that he has, especially this time of the year,” Gentry said. ”He’s a really bright player. One of the smartest guys I’ve ever been around. I’ve obviously had the opportunity to coach Steph (Curry), Chris Paul, Steve Nash Bryan Little Jersey , Grant Hill. When you start talking about the extremely smart players, he’s one of those guys. I also think he has a way of giving confidence to the other guys. He makes them believe in themselves.”
Gentry says he relishes having someone who can lead the team in the way Rondo can. ”I know it’s like an old clich锟? but it really is like having an extra assistant coach.”
Trail Blazers: Among the challenges for the Blazers in this first-round series, none ranks higher than defending Davis. Terry Stotts said that he would begin the series with Jusuf Nurkic, who did not see much time on Davis in the regular season, on the All-Star big man.
Nurkic played 24 minutes, finishing with 11 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks.
In a surprise, rookie Zach Collins played 22 minutes off the Blazers bench, up from his regular- season average of 16 minutes per game.
UP NEXT
Game 2 is Tuesday night in Portland.
Tom Brady didn't have any trouble finding receivers to throw to in the New England Patriots' opener.The reigning NFL MVP completed passes to eight players in a 27-20 victory over the Houston Texans on Sunday, connecting with Rob Gronkowski and Phillip Dorsett for seven receptions and a touchdown apiece.
"We try to spread it around quite a bit," said Brady, who was 26 of 39 for 277 yards and three scores. "If you're out there, I trust you, the coaches trust you, the team trusts you. That's why we're putting you out there."
After losing Danny Amendola to free agency and Julian Edelman to a four-game suspension, the Patriots were expected to be hobbled by a lack of targets for the three-time NFL MVP. This year's corps was being compared to the one in 2006 Ondrej Palat Jersey , when Reche Caldwell led the team with 63 receptions (and caught only 15 more the rest of his career).
Brady hit Gronkowski for 123 yards, including a 21-yard touchdown three plays after Deshaun Watson fumbled a handoff at the Texans 19 on Houston's first offensive play . They also connected on a 28-yard pass during a 2-minute drill that left the Patriots with a 21-6 halftime lead.
"It's very important that they came out and played the way they did. They're our leaders," said Dorsett, who had 66 receiving yards, including a 4-yard score. "When they play well, they give an adrenaline boost to the rest of the team."
It was Gronkowski's 31st career regular-season or playoff game of 100 yards or more, tying Tony Gonzalez's NFL record.
"We've been playing together for a long time," Brady said. "I know his body language. I know his ability to run and what routes. He can do it. He can do really all the routes. It's just a matter of giving him a chance, and it came with a big touchdown today."
The 41-year-old quarterback also found James White for a touchdown; he also had an interception on a pass that was tipped at the line of scrimmage. Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, who missed the final nine games last season with a torn right ACL, completed 17 of 35 passes for 176 yards, one score and one interception.
Watson struggled to move the team in the first 40 minutes, managing just a pair of field-goal drives before Alfred Blue ran it in from 1 yard to make it 24-13 in the last two minutes of the third period. Lamar Miller ran 20 times for 98 yards for Houston.
A muffed punt by New England's Riley McCarron with under five minutes left set up Watson's 5-yard TD pass to Bruce Ellington and cut the deficit to 27-20. But after getting the ball back at their 1 with 43 seconds left, the Texans failed to reach midfield.
BACK FROM INJURIES
Watson, defensive lineman J.J. Watt and linebacker Whitney Mercilus returned after finishing 2017 on injured reserve. Watt had two quarterback hurries, but D.J. Reader had the only two sacks of Brady Justin Abdelkader Jersey , both late.
"It's good to play a full game to know it lasts, to know it holds up," said Watt, a three-time defensive player of the year. "I didn't think about it once. So, that's all you can ask for."
UNDER PRESSURE
Watson, who threw for 301 yards in a 36-33 loss to New England last year in his second NFL start, botched a handoff with Miller in the first quarter, setting up the Patriots for their first touchdown. In the second quarter, Watson inexplicably chucked the ball into the end zone for a double-covered Vyncint Smith on a second-and-3 from the New England 42.
Stephon Gilmore brought it down for the interception.
"I think it was terrible, on my part," Watson said. "I just feel like you can put the 'L' on me."
INJURIES
Texans: DE Christian Covington injured his thigh in the first quarter. T Seantrel Henderson left after getting his left ankle rolled a few plays later. Kevin Johnson left with what the team said was a concussion and did not return.
Patriots: RB Jeremy Hill left with a right knee injury on the Gronkowski fumble in the third quarter.
LATE SERIES
After the Texans forced New England to punt in the final minute, Ryan Allen landed the ball inside the 5-yard line and Jonathan Jones downed it at the 1. Houston advanced to the 16 on a penalty for leading with the helmet and Watson found DeAndre Hopkins for 14 yards before scrambling for 13 more.
From his 43 with 5 seconds left, Watson chucked the ball as far as the 10, but it was knocked away.
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