EditorsNote: adds Gentry, McCollumn, Mirotic quotes
Nikola Mirotic and Anthony Davis led the way as New Orleans dominated from start to finish in a 119-102 dismantling of the visiting Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday, giving the Pelicans a 3-0 lead in a Western Conference first-round playoff series.
Mirotic scored 30 points and grabbed eight rebounds, and Davis collected 28 points and 11 boards for New Orleans, which will try to sweep the best-of-seven series at home on Saturday.
Rajon Rondo chipped in 16 points and 11 assists for the Pelicans, who led by 33 points with seven minutes to play.
CJ McCollum scored 22 points, Al-Farouq Aminu 21 and Damian Lillard 20 for the Trail Blazers, who committed 24 turnovers.
New Orleans shot superbly — 52.9 percent from the field, 40.7 percent from 3-point range, 84.2 percent from the free-throw line. The Blazers hit 46.3 percent from the floor, 29 percent from long distance and 76 percent at the foul line.
“Our team right now is playing good team basketball,” New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry said, according to the Times-Picayune. “It’s about winning, it’s not about individual stats. Guys are sacrificing their games for each other.”
The Pelicans shot 54.8 percent from the field and forced 12 Portland turnovers to seize a 64-45 advantage at halftime. Mirotic scored 21 first-half points to lead the way. Aminu had 15 points and McCollum 14 for the Blazers at the break.
“They whooped our (rear) and beat us in every facet of the game,” McCollum said, according to the Oregonian. “Loose balls, rebounds, free-throw line. Energy plays, 3-pointers in transition, three-pointers in the halfcourt. You name it, they did it.”
Portland opened the third quarter with five consecutive points to draw within 14, but the Pelicans answered with an 11-0 run to push the difference to 75-50. The Blazers came back with a 10-0 tear to trim the margin to 75-60. New Orleans extended it to 90-65 late in the third quarter, then took a 91-70 lead into the final period.
When Rondo scored on a reverse layup with 9:50 left, New Orleans had stoked its lead to 100-74. Soon it was 112-79, and Portland unloaded its bench with the verdict decided.
New Orleans broke a 16-16 tie with a 20-2 surge for a 36-18 lead. The Pelicans, with Mirotic scoring 14 points, carried a 36-20 advantage into the second quarter.
“To be honest, I never thought I’d score 30 or something like that,” Mirotic said, according to the Times-Picayune. “I was just trying to play simple. If I have a shot, take a shot. Credit my teammates. They looked for me multiple times and hit me with some great passes.”
After Rondo knocked down a 3-pointer to push New Orleans’ lead to 46-26. Portland used a 15-6 run to cut it to 52-41. The Pelicans answered with an 8-0 spurt for a 60-41 edge.
—Field Level Media