Pelicans rule the roost

Davis and Holiday combine for 88 points in Game 4 as sixth seeds whitewash Blazers

NEW ORLEANS • If the other Western Conference play-off teams had yet to take notice of the New Orleans Pelicans, they will surely now take heed after a statement sweep of third seeds Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday.

The sixth-seeded Pelicans flew under the radar as contenders in the National Basketball Association (NBA) play-offs, after DeMarcus Cousins had his season prematurely ended in January following a torn Achilles tendon.

Many had felt the Pelicans did not have the locker-room depth to cover for Cousins' absence but Jrue Holiday has stepped up in the first-round series, averaging 27.8 points throughout according to NBA.com.

And in Game 4, Anthony Davis and Holiday combined to post one of the greatest duo performances in NBA history as the hosts Pelicans (4-0) beat the Trail Blazers 131-123.

Davis delivered a franchise playoff-record 47 points and Holiday tallied 41 to equal the NBA record (88) for most points by a pair of team-mates in a single play-off game.

"We put the ball in these guys' hands and they delivered for us," said the Pelicans' Rajon Rondo.

The 88-point mark meant they matched Boston Celtics duo of John Havlicek and Jo Jo White in the 1973 post-season and it beat the record total of Chicago Bulls' Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen by one point.

"Their stars really put on a show tonight," admitted Blazers coach Terry Stotts, whose team have now lost 10 straight play-off games.

The pair scored 28 of their team's final 29 points at the Smoothie King Centre and the Pelicans will move into the second round for only the second time since the NBA returned to New Orleans 16 years ago.

They also became the first sixth seeds or lower to sweep a first-round series since 2003.

Elsewhere, Ben Simmons became the first rookie since Magic Johnson in 1980 with a triple-double in a play-off game, helping to spark the Philadelphia 76ers to a 106-102 win over the Miami Heat.

He scored 17 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and had 10 assists as the Sixers seized a 3-1 edge. In Utah, Ricky Rubio had 26 points to lead the Jazz to a 115-102 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder for a 2-1 lead.

Also, Jimmy Butler scored 28 points as the Minnesota Timberwolves toppled top seeds Houston Rockets 121-105 in Game 3 for their first play-off win in 14 years. Houston lead 2-1.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 23, 2018, with the headline 'Pelicans rule the roost'. Print Edition | Subscribe