There's no other way to put it. The Pelicans were 7-11 throughout the regular season when Davis put up 22 points or fewer, and they never looked as well-rounded as they did Tuesday, Four of those seven wins came against teams actively tanking (Grizzlies, Magic, Hawks, Kings), two came against playoff teams (Spurs, Heat) and one came against the Hornets.In Game 2, instead, it was the Pelicans' backcourt shouldering the load.
Lillard's sudden futility can be traced largely to Holiday, whose brilliance on both ends of the court has suddenly raised the veteran guard's profile out of the deep National Basketball Association shadows and into the leading story on SportsCenter.
Anthony Davis was a plus 10 on the night.
The Pelicans delivered again on the road, beating the Blazers, 111-102. He was definitely struggling with an ankle injury down the stretch against the Trail Blazers, and the Pelicans will find life hard without arguably their most reliable 3-point shooter (which would have sounded insane to start this series) in the next few games of this series. Al Farouq Aminu came to play in the first half, knocking down triples and eating up rebounds. People have always known how great Anthony Davis is.
It was fair to wonder as the Pelicans enjoyed that booming hip hop Wednesday night and the Blazers left the Moda Center battered and besieged, searching for ways to flip a series that has started terribly, terribly wrong.
Look! It's Blazer dancers Lindsay and Erica. Jrue Holiday's post-season production is taking pressure off of Pelicans All-Star Anthony Davis to be flawless in the playoffs.
Okay, back to the game.
Holiday struggled at times with injuries after coming to the Pelicans in 2013.
To start the playoffs, Holiday averaged 27.0 points on 54.5 percent shooting from the field, along with 5.5 assists and 5.0 rebounds, leading New Orleans to two straight victories. It's true there were a few weak calls but they hardly made the difference in this game. Rajon Rondo is back to his old crafty playoff form, Davis is a beast, and Jrue Holiday is playing the best ball of his life. "He's just a guy that really has command of the team". Meanwhile Lillard and company seem stuck mostly in second gear. He averaged 28.1 points, 11.1 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks while shooting 53.4 percent from the field and a career-best 34.0 percent from the three-point line in 75 games this year. His ensuing free throw tied things up at 97 and we all fastened our seat belts for the big finish. Pelicans forward Nikola Mirotic twisted his right ankle late in Game 2.
Then on Tuesday, Holiday and Rondo had a hand in all 20 of the Pelicans' final points. "I think it's as simple as that". Jusuf Nurkic only missed three total games after battling injuries most of his career.
A series between a No.3 and 6 seed is expected to be competitive, but the higher seeded team should win. So it's not impossible, but the odds are long.
The Pelicans will now have a chance to wrap up the series in New Orleans starting with Game Three Thursday night. The entire season had almost been written off before the Blazers came storming back to claim the 3rd seed in the west. Do they have another surprise run left in them? And in Game 2, the hero was Holiday.