Davis, Holiday dominate as Pelicans soar to sweep of Blazers
Philadelphia tops Miami to take 3-1 series lead
Anthony Davis sat on the court, a scowl on his face and his biceps flexed on each side of his head.
The Pelicans All-Star had just converted a layup as he fell to the court after a hard foul. His strength-projecting celebration afterward was that of a franchise player determined to lay the foundation of his playoff legacy with a dominant performance in the clutch.
"In a close-out game and then the magnitude of the situation, this is probably the best game he's played since I've been here," Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. "He just was not going to let us lose."
Davis scored 33 of his franchise playoff-record 47 points in the second half — including 12 points in the final five minutes — and New Orleans completed a first-round playoff sweep of the Portland Trail Blazers with a 131-123 victory on Saturday night.
"It was fun," Davis said. "It was an amazing feeling for me to go out and sweep these guys and play the way that I played."
And when Davis wasn't devastating the Blazers, Jrue Holiday was giving Portland fits with explosive drives or pull-up jumpers. Holiday capped his 41-point night with an 18-footer that gave the Pelicans a six-point lead with 40 seconds left.
Rajon Rondo had 16 assists, and Davis also had 11 rebounds and three blocks for New Orleans, which is moving on to the second round of the playoffs for only the second time since the NBA returned to the city 16 seasons ago.
Rondo has said he came to New Orleans to play with what he viewed as the best "Big Three" in the NBA — Davis, Holiday and DeMarcus Cousins. Misfortune struck Cousins in late January, when he was lost for the season to a left Achilles tear. Davis and Holiday had to raise their games, and have come through beyond expectations.
Simmons, Sixers dump Heat
Ben Simmons had the first playoff triple-double by a rookie in nearly 40 years, JJ Redick scored 24 points and the Philadelphia 76ers outlasted the Miami Heat 106-102 on Saturday to move within a victory of the second round.
The 76ers lead the Eastern Conference series 3-1 and can close out the Heat when play resumes in Philadelphia on Tuesday night.
Simmons became the first rookie since Magic Johnson in 1980 to post a playoff triple-double — 17 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists. Joel Embiid finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds for Philadelphia.
Dwyane Wade led all scorers with 25 points off the bench for the Heat, who led by 12 points in the second half before letting a game they almost certainly had to have slip away.
Wade carried the comeback effort, with the Heat down six and less than 2 minutes left. His three-point play cut the margin in half and his next two field goals got Miami within one each time.
The Heat got no closer.
Goran Dragic scored 20, James Johnson had 15 and Hassan Whiteside finished with 13 points and 13 rebounds for Miami, which now needs to pull off some history. The Heat have erased a 3-1 deficit only once, in 1997 against New York.
Miami held slim leads at the half — 2-0 in players who went to the locker room injured, 4-0 in stitches received, 61-56 on the scoreboard.
A wild scene was the story of the second quarter. Philadelphia's Dario Saric was driving from the right wing and had his dribble knocked away by Justise Winslow, and four players wound up on the floor as they went for the loose ball. Josh Richardson took the worst of it, getting slammed into by Embiid. Richardson stayed down for more than a minute, eventually getting helped to his feet and to the Miami locker room.
Hardly anyone noticed.
All eyes were on the other end, where Dragic was shoved to the floor by Robert Covington. James Johnson — a black belt and MMA fighter — took exception and went toward Covington, so Simmons came in for a few words.
FOR COMPETITORS ONLY!<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/HEATCulture?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#HEATCulture</a> <a href="https://t.co/AYMkX0Ay3R">pic.twitter.com/AYMkX0Ay3R</a>—@MiamiHEAT
It wound up taking two referees, two Heat coaches and a few players to get everyone separated.
Winslow needed stitches to close a gash over his left eye. Richardson, his left shoulder bruised, came back for the second half. Simmons sent another message moments after the dustup by drilling Wade.
Miami led by 12 in the third, but ceded control in a hurry. The Heat went five minutes without scoring, and Redick's reverse layup with 9:01 left capped a 14-0 run that put Philadelphia up 87-83.
The 76ers wouldn't trail again.
Timberwolves get 1st playoff win in 14 years
Jimmy Butler hit four 3-pointers among his 28 points and Karl-Anthony Towns snapped back from a bad start to the series with 18 points and 16 rebounds, leading the Minnesota Timberwolves past the Houston Rockets 121-105 in Game 3 on Saturday night for their first post-season victory in 14 years.
Jeff Teague scored 23 points and Andrew Wiggins pitched in 20 points with another four 3-pointers, helping the Timberwolves match the fire-away Rockets from behind the arc and cruise down the stretch behind a 50 per cent shooting performance.
Derrick Rose added 17 points off the bench for the Wolves, who will try to even the series with a win in Game 4 on Monday night.
In earning their first playoff win since May 29, 2004, the Timberwolves set a franchise record for points in a playoff game. Their 15 3-pointers are also a team single-game playoff record. <a href="https://t.co/JHFdIeO2ts">pic.twitter.com/JHFdIeO2ts</a>—@ESPNStatsInfo
James Harden led the way with 29 points, but Chris Paul fouled out with 17 points and the Rockets went just 15 for 41 from 3-point range.
The Rockets made four 3-pointers on their last seven possessions of the first half to turn an 11-point deficit to just one in less than 3 1/2 minutes up until the break. Butler twisted his left ankle during that stretch, causing some brief anxiety in the arena. He didn't require, or accept, any medical attention and returned from the intermission without any hint that he was hurt.
Taj Gibson hounded Harden and forced an airballed 3-pointer, prompting the apex of the noise throughout the night with the Wolves ahead 77-70. Towns powered his way past Ryan Anderson for a layup and a three-point play with 1:57 left in the third quarter, pushing the lead to 10 points, and he flexed his biceps to the crowd after the whistle as he walked like King Kong to the corner of the court in celebration.
Rubio's triple-double gives Jazz series lead over Thunder
Ricky Rubio had 26 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists for Utah's first playoff triple-double in 17 years, and Donovan Mitchell added 22 points to lead the Jazz to a 115-102 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday night and a 2-1 lead in their first-round series.
Joe Ingles, who had 21 points, made two three-pointers around two free throws to spark a 13-0 surge that ended on Mitchell's three to put Utah up by 20 points in the fourth quarter. The big run was just par for the course in a series characterized by large runs by one team, then countered by the other.
Rubio's triple-double was the first by a Jazz player in the post-season since John Stockton in the 2001 playoffs against Dallas.
Paul George scored 23 points and Carmelo Anthony, Russell Westbrook and Raymond Felton each had 14 for the Thunder. Westbrook also had 11 rebounds and nine assists, just missing his ninth playoff triple-double but also had eight turnovers and shot 5 for 17.
Gobert's dunk and pair of free throws capped a 9-0 run in the third quarter to give Utah an 84-70 lead. Minutes later, Rubio hit a running 28-foot three-pointer to make it 89-75 entering the final period.
The Jazz changed coverages on Westbrook throughout the game and surprised the perennial all-star with different players in his expected passing lanes.