Trail Blazers lose Game 1 to New Orleans Pelicans, 97-95

2018 NBA Playoffs: Portland Trail Blazers vs. New Orleans Pelicans Preview And Prediction

Anthony Davis and Rajon Rondo Lead Pelicans to Playoff Win

Make a lot of threes.

The Portland Trail Blazers came out at the top of an absolute dogfight in the middle of the pack in the Western Conference, taking the No. 3 seed that they occupied for most of the second half of the season back from the Jazz on the last day of the season. Uh, yeah - that's a big NO.

"Any game we go into, we expect to win", said Pelicans forward Anthony Davis, who finished with 22 points and 15 rebounds. We know how risky they are. But let's look at some highlights.

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 nearly all of a 19-point deficit.

It was McCollum's three-pointer from the corner that cut New Orleans lead - which had once stood as much as 19 in the third quarter - to one point in the game's final minute.

The Pelicans ripped off a 21-4 run to close the second quarter, bringing the crowd to its feet and leading to a 61-43 halftime advantage.

This unit gave the Blazers the lead, which is an encouraging sign as the Blazers - hopefully - go deep into the playoffs. A McCollum 3-pointer capped an 18-4 Portland run that made the score 93-92 with nearly exactly a minute left.

This was part of an overall poor-shooting first half for both teams.

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. And the Pelicans extended their lead to 55-42. But two months later the Pelicans beat the Blazers 123-116 in Portland without Davis.

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The Blazers pulled within seven points with 9:07 left to play on a Lillard three; it was 77-70.

But then good things started to happen for Portland again ... for a little while.

Even as Anthony Davis struggled by his standards, making just 8-of-18 field goals and 6-of-12 free throws, his teammates did more than enough to carry them to an easy victory. The first was a backdoor pass to backup center Meyers Leonard, who'd checked in for the first time before that very play. He had the ball knocked out of his hands and out of bounds. In the first half, MeGee had 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting plus a couple of blocked shots inside.

Reserves played a key role Saturday, with Portland's bench accounting for 27 points, led by eight by Collins.

When Davis missed a 3-point attempt, the Blazers rebounded with 25.5 seconds left. By stealing home-court advantage in Game 1, the team is off to a solid start.

Nurkic played 24 minutes, finishing with 11 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks.

New Orleans closed out its 48-34 record in style, winning their final five games to finish with the third best record in franchise history and its most wins since the 2008-09 campaign. If Jrue Holiday and Rajon Rondo can at least limit Lillard and McCollum with their excellent defense, they can make this an extremely hard match-up for Portland.

Then Portland's offensive troubles came back to haunt them, setting up Game 2 Tuesday night as a must-win.

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