NEW ORLEANS (Louisiana) • Hours before dishing out a National Basketball Association (NBA) play-off career-high 21 assists, Rajon Rondo dished out some advice.
The 12-year veteran told New Orleans Pelicans team-mate Anthony Davis to "take a nap and think about 50 (points)" ahead of Game 3 of their Western Conference semi-final play-off series against the Golden State Warriors.
Davis did not quite reach the half-century mark at the Smoothie King Centre on Friday but the Pelicans did halve the Warriors' series lead to 2-1 behind his 33 points. And they will have a chance to even things up when they host Game 4 today (tomorrow morning, Singapore time).
The centre added 18 rebounds and four steals as New Orleans dominated the champions 119-100.
"He came out aggressive. He set the tone on both ends of the floor," said Rondo, who had just one fewer assist than the entire Warriors team combined. "He attacked the rim strong tonight."
The guard did his part in keeping the New Orleans offence clicking with 21 assists. No other NBA player has a 20-assist game in the play-offs in the last decade.
He (Davis) came out aggressive. He set the tone on both ends of the floor. He attacked the rim strong tonight.
RAJON RONDO (above), the New Orleans guard whose 21 assists included seven for Anthony Davis
The Pelicans made 50 per cent of their shots (48 of 96), including 45.2 per cent of their three-point attempts (14 of 31). The Warriors shot a poor 38 per cent (35 of 92), including only 29 per cent of their three-point attempts (nine of 31).
"We just did what we were supposed to do," Davis said after the Pelicans led by as many as 26 points. "Of course it was a big game for us. We didn't want to go down 0-3. But we got our big one tonight and now we'll try to get ready for Sunday."
Warriors coach Steve Kerr was not surprised to see the Pelicans respond after dropping the first two games in Oakland, California.
"On their home floor, down 2-0, this is what you expect," Kerr said of the intensity the Pelicans displayed from the opening tip-off. "Their defence was great. They were the aggressors. I thought they brought the necessary force to the game on their home floor."
New Orleans drained 10 three-pointers in the first 24 minutes, leading by as many as 15 en route to a 62-56 half-time margin. Jrue Holiday helped set the tone, scoring 11 of his 21 points in the first quarter.
Warriors star Stephen Curry, back in the starting line-up after coming off the bench on his return from a knee injury in Game 2, mustered only three points in the opening quarter, when sharpshooter Klay Thompson had none.
Thompson scored 20 of his 26 points in the second quarter, but finished making just nine of his 22 attempts from the field. Kevin Durant added 22 points and Curry finished with 19 points on six-of-19 shooting for the Warriors.
Western Conference top seeds Houston Rockets, stung by a Game 2 defeat on their home floor, responded with a vengeance in Salt Lake City, where they thrashed the Utah Jazz 113-92.
James Harden scored 25 points with 12 assists for Houston, who took a 2-1 lead in the series, which continues today in Utah.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS
CLEVELAND V TORONTO
East s-finals, Game 3: Singtel TV Ch110, 8.30am