Pelicans Push Series Lead to 3-0

Those were the most succinct ways to describe what happened Thursday night in the Smoothie King Center, as the New Orleans Pelicans swiped, swamped and shot their way to a 119-102 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers in front of a raucous and appreciative home crowd.

"I think that anyone, if you go back to previous year and you watched the Chicago team, what he meant to that team, they went in there and won two games in Boston when Boston was really good", Gentry said. This marks the first time the franchises have met in postseason action, meaning the Pelicans have a 2-0 edge in games won. This type of efficient bench scoring will need to be an integral part of the game for Portland, should they wish to not go down 3-0. Now that we're up 2-0, I feel like it's going to be insane.

The Trail Blazers certainly noticed that.

He was 71-for-154 (46.1 percent) on isolation plays, which ranked No. 4 overall (minimum: 100 possessions) this season.

"Jrue was torching CJ McCollum", added a third.

The 2015 FIBA AfroBasket victor has also averaged 10.5 points, 11.0 rebounds and 1.5 assists so far this season.

Harkless had a minor procedure on his left knee in late March and had missed 11 games.

Heading into the No. 3 versus No. 6 Portland-New Orleans matchup, many pundits predicted it would be a tight series.

Alvin Gentry has stressed reducing turnovers in the second game and rebounding better. Holiday is averaging 27 points per game on 54% shooting, with 5 rebounds and 5 assists per game, and the Pelicans are a plus-24 with him on the floor, a significant margin for two close games.

The top starts in the current series have been the Pelicans' Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday. These lineups got blitzed in Game 1, as the Pelicans were outscored by 18 points in 16 (!) minutes.

The Trail Blazers are 1-4 ATS in the last five meetings.

The Pelicans were a buzzsaw on both ends. Last season, the Boston Celtics lost the first two games at homes to Chicago but rallied to win the series. The upper-echelon New Orleans offense ranks fourth in the National Basketball Association in that metric at 0.541, while the elite Portland defense is ranked fifth in effective field goal percentage allowed (0.504). If there's any time for them to give it all they've got, it's got to come in Game 3.

CJ McCollum had a better shooting game with 22 points and Al-Farouq Aminu added 21 points, but it wasn't almost enough.

And then there are the momentum-busting 50-50 plays you just saw in the video above, in which he's blocking shots and winning crucial loose balls. Stotts says he's unsure about Turner's prospects for returning later in the series. Al-Farouq Aminu had a strong game with 14 points with four 3-pointers and 15 rebounds. What can Portland do to stem the tide?

The Trail Blazers trailed by 19 points, 64-45, at halftime and as many as 33 in the fourth quarter. He's 7 of 17 from deep in this series, and his plus-minus leads the entire team at +31 through two games, in a series where he's played in about 40 minutes in both games. New Orleans avoided the complacency that can often plague teams with a big lead.

  • Julie Sanders