The New Orleans Pelicans entered Tuesday’s game looking to take a 2-0 lead before heading back home to NOLA. They proclaimed in preceding days that they would seek to be greedy so that they wouldn’t need to fly back to Portland and finish off this series.
Well, following a dominant 57-point performance in the second half, where Portland managed to score only 43 points, New Orleans is that much closer to accomplishing that mission because they knocked off the Trail Blazers 111-102 in Game 2.
In the first quarter, Jrue Holiday and the Pelicans stormed out of the gates, taking a 9-2 lead. However, the Blazers fought back with an end of the quarter push to bring the score to 25-23. Jrue Holiday led all scorers early with 12 points on 6/9 shooting.
In the second, Al-Farouq Aminu — of all people — took over in the points department by knocking down four three-pointers. The Blazers started off hot, converting on their first six shot attempts and going on an 8-0 run after Darius Miller sank a triple. Despite this, the Pelicans never lost touch and were able to regain some momentum, keeping the score to a 5-point deficit at 59-54 entering halftime.
Holiday started things off in the third quarter, scoring the Pelicans first seven points, and then Anthony Davis came alive after Jusuf Nurkic had to leave the game. AD scored 10 points on 5/6 and the Pelicans recaptured the lead in the middle of the frame. The Pelicans were led by Davis’ 22 points and 10 rebounds and Holiday’s 21 points and 8 assists headed into the 4th quarter with an 87-78 lead.
In the 4th quarter, the Trail Blazers fought back and managed to take a one-point lead at 100-99. The Pelicans, however, would then go on to hit three straight three-pointers and ride that 9-0 run in the last 2:20 of the game.
The real story of the fourth quarter, though, was the Pelicans nitty gritty rebounding effort as they collected a vast majority of the 50-50 balls. In the first half, the Trail Blazers grabbed 11 offensive rebounds. In the second, only two. TWO!
The real story of this game was PLAYOFF JRUE HOLIDAY! 33 points! Nine assists! 14/24 shooting! He was an absolute nightmare on both sides of the ball for the Trail Blazers. Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, once again, were contained, combining for 39 points on 16/38 shooting with 10 assists versus nine turnovers.
Outside of Holiday, Davis had an efficient — and probably under appreciated — 22 points and 13 rebounds. Playoff Rondo had another good night, adding 16 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. And my pick for the series X-Factor, Nikola Mirotic added 17 points and eight rebounds, which included a brilliant, high-arcing, 4th quarter three-pointer to take the lead for good on the night.
The Pelicans forced the Trail Blazers role players to try and beat them, leading to a few solid stat lines for several members on Portland’s bench. However, the Pelicans’ stars were too much for them to handle. Following halftime, New Orleans just seemed to want this game more, playing smarter, faster and seemingly coming up with almost all of the 50/50 balls.
Up next, the Pelicans will head back to New Orleans with a 2-0 lead and look to bury the Blazers into a 3-0 hole on Thursday night. If the Pelicans can continue to play like they did tonight, do you really want to be against them?