Davis takes stage, scores 35 as Pelicans hold off Blaz­ers

Philadelphia opens with a big vic­tory over Mi­ami in East.

Austin American-Statesman - - NBA PLAYOFFS -

An­thony Davis stole the show and the New Or­leans Pelicans stole home-court ad­van­tage from the Port­land Trail Blaz­ers.

Davis had 35 points, 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 firstround 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, while McCol­lum had 19 points.

76ers 130, Heat 103: Joel Em­biid used some body English as he scam­pered down the base­line and tried to will Marco Be­linelli’s off-bal­ance 3-pointer through the net.

Be­linelli buried it, be­cause of course he would. Even the wild ones go in of late for the Six­ers.

With their in­jured Em­biid on the bench, the 76ers proved one more time in their big­gest game in six years they can romp with­out their All-Star. Em­biid wore a white mask as he rang a minia­ture Lib­erty Bell — then the Mi­ami Heat got their bell rung in Game 1 of the firstround se­ries.

Ben Sim­mons had 17 points, 14 as­sists and nine re­bounds in his play­off de­but, and the Six­ers rolled to a 130-103 vic­tory on Satur­day night for their 17th straight win.

“I feel this group has some­thing spe­cial in it,” coach Brett Brown said.

Led by four each from JJ Redick and Be­linelli, the 76ers hit a team play­off-record 18 3-point­ers (on 28 at­tempts).

The Six­ers have stormed through the NBA since midMarch and the Heat were just an­other vic­tim in a win­ning streak that in­cludes nine straight with­out Em­biid.

Brown, who won cham­pi­onships as an as­sis­tant in San An­to­nio, won 47 games his first three sea­sons as the Six­ers un­der­went the Process — and 52, plus Game 1 this sea­son.

“The NBA playoffs is the great­est pro­fes­sor you’ve ever had,” he said.

The 76ers aced their first test.

Redick, who said he briefly lost vi­sion in his left eye fol­low­ing a hard fall early in the game, scored 28 points to lead the Six­ers, who host Game 2 on Mon­day. Be­linelli had 25 and Ilyasova 17.

Em­biid posted a photo burst of teams in or­der of a po­ten­tial road to­ward a Process ti­tle. He started with the Heat, fol­lowed by Bos­ton, then a pic­ture of him hug­ging Cleveland’s LeBron James, and end­ing with Em­biid look­ing at Golden State’s Dray­mond Green.

The Heat would swipe left on the col­lage.

For a half, the Heat got what they needed against one of the NBA’s tough­est teams and James John­son and Kelly Olynyk helped them take a 60-56 lead at the break. Olynyk led the Heat with 26 points.

Sim­mons as­sisted on Ilyasova’s 3 and then hit a jumper for a 66-63 lead. Dario Saric, who the Six­ers waited for two years to come over while he played over­seas, also buried a 3 off an as­sist from Sim­mons. Sim­mons made a statue out of Olynyk, cross­ing him up and bust­ing through for a twohanded slam that brought down the house.

All that was left was the “Trust the Process!” chants and they rang out in­side the Wells Fargo Cen­ter once Saric buried a 3 in the fourth for a 109-87 lead.

“The at­mos­phere was amaz­ing,” Sim­mons said.

So were the Six­ers.

STEVE DYKES / GETTY IMAGES

An­thony Davis of the Pelicans dunks the ball dur­ing the first quar­ter Satur­day night in the vic­tory at Port­land.

MITCHELL LEFF / GETTY IMAGES

Ben Sim­mons of the 76ers dunks the ball past Josh Richard­son and Has­san White­side of the Heat.

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