Pelicans: Have No Fear, 'Playoff Rondo' is Here

Aubrey Yates
April 15, 2018

With under 30 seconds remaining in regulation, the New Orleans Pelicans try to fight their way back to a lead in a wild series of events.

The Pelicans hung on for a 97-95 win after leading by 19 points in the third quarter.

Rajon Rondo lobs a ideal pass to Anthony Davis, who finishes with an emphatic one-handed jam.

What we're seeing now before tip-off is just a fraction of what to expect if the Moda Center crowd gets going during Saturday night's game. New Orleans, which went 24-17 on the road, a better record than all but the elite of the league, led by 19 points in the second half Saturday, then withstood a furious charge from Portland to hold on for a series-opening triumph.

The Pelicans lost Cousins for the season because of an Achilles injury in January, and many thought the team's playoff hopes were over. Rajon Rondo was undeniably in playoff form as he finished the game with six points, eight rebounds, and 17 assists. Jrue Holiday added 21 points, outplaying both Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, and had a big blocked shot in the closing seconds as New Orleans held on after Portland erased nearly all of a 19-point deficit. It wasn't just his outside shooting that helped pace New Orleans.

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However, even though his intensity and effort never wavered, it was only a matter of time before one of Lillard and McCollum got it going for Portland. But there's no excuses.

Portland's two stars finished with just three combined free-throw attempts. "We feel like if we can limit their shots, or have them take volume shots and kind of make it hard and (force) bad shots, we're going to do our best". "We just need to just set a tone from the beginning playing with a lot of physicality and play for 48 minutes", said Niko Mirotic. "You've got to figure out how the referees are reffing the game and go from there".

For whatever reason, Rondo always comes alive during the postseason. One of the smartest guys I've ever been around. I don't think it's going to be easy. "He makes them believe in themselves". Say what you want about Rondo, but he's been playing his ass off and the team is responding to it.

Trail Blazers: Among the challenges for the Blazers in this first-round series, none ranks higher than defending Davis.

The Blazers split the season series with the Pelicans, winning the first matchup in October 103-93 and the final meeting in March 107-103. Evan Turner added 13 points and Jusuf Norkic had 11 points and 11 rebounds.

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