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Jrue Holiday’s postseason production is providing Pelicans All-Star Anthony Davis with a more comfortable margin for error – and has left Portland with precious little.
Holiday’s 54 points Nyheim Hines Color Rush Jersey , 16 assists and slew of defensive successes in the first two games are big reasons why the sixth-seeded Pelicans hold a surprising 2-0 series lead over the third-seeded Trail Blazers as they prepare for Game 3 Thursday night in New Orleans.
”Playoff Jrue, I guess,” Davis quipped after Holiday scored 33 – including a late, deep 3-pointer – in the Pelicans’ Game 2 triumph in Portland on Tuesday night. ”He’s in a different mode.”
Philadelphia visits Miami in one of two other Game 3s on Thursday night, while the Spurs’ return to San Antonio after a pair of double-digit losses at defending champion Golden State.
Pelicans general manager Dell Demps bet big on Holiday on the first day of free agency last summer, giving the 27-year-old guard a five-year contract worth about $126 million. But if the postseason is where players really earn their money, then the Pelicans’ Holiday spending could very well be worth it.
Holiday helped preserve New Orleans’ Game 1 victory with a leaping steal in transition during the final minutes, followed by a block in the final seconds. Those plays were prime examples of why Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry has asserted Holiday is one of the best two-way players in the NBA.
”We ask him to guard the best perimeter player and we ask him to do it while we’re also wanting him to get 20 points,” Gentry said, noting that Holiday has had to take turns guarding both members of Portland’s prolific starting backcourt, guards Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum.
”He can get to the basket against just about anybody that there is. His outside shot has really improved,” Gentry added. ”He’s very confident in what he’s doing and the way he’s playing.”
TRAIL BLAZERS AT PELICANS
New Orleans leads 2-0. Game 3 M.J. Stewart Color Rush Jersey , 9 P.M., NBA TV.
NEED TO KNOW: The Pelicans were no better at home (24-17) during the regular season than on the road (24-17), which gives Portland hope. ”We’ve won on their floor before and we feel like we’re capable of doing the same thing they did to us,” Portland’s Lillard said. However, the atmosphere could be different for New Orleans’ first home playoff game since 2015.
KEEP AN EYE ON: Pelicans guard Rajon Rondo , who had 17 assists in Game 1 and was one assist shy of a triple-double in Game 2.
INJURY UPDATE: Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic was limited to only 15 minutes in Game 2 because of a left leg contusion, while forward Evan Turner is questionable with a right toe contusion. Pelicans forward Nikola Mirotic twisted his right ankle late in Game 2. He has not been scratched, but his effectiveness remains to be seen.
PRESSURE IS ON: Portland guards Lillard and McCollum, who have been inconsistent in the series and will be desperate to prevent the Blazers from falling into a 0-3 hole. ”We don’t want to be in this position … but it should be fun and we should accept that challenge,” Lillard said. ”If not, it could be a quick series.”
76ERS AT HEAT
Series tied 1-1. Game 3, 7 p.m. Clive Walford Color Rush Jersey , TNT.
NEED TO KNOW: The 76ers say All-Star center Joel Embiid, who has missed 10 games with a broken orbital bone, is doubtful. The Heat ended Philadelphia’s franchise-record 17-game winning streak Monday, winning with physical defense. To further ratchet up tension, some 76ers were miffed by Miami’s Goran Dragic’s late layup to pad the Heat’s 113-103 victory.
KEEP AN EYE ON: The 76ers’ shooting and the Heat’s Dwyane Wade. Philadelphia shot 18 for 28 from 3-point range in Game 1, but just 7 for 36 in Game 2. Wade had 28 points in 26 minutes in Game 2 , but at age 36, there’s no guarantee he’ll consistently summon that sort of performance. ”I’m not worried about encores,” Wade said. ”Right now it’s just about being a leader and giving this team what they need on different nights.”
INJURY UPDATE: Embiid practiced Tuesday and Wednesday, but regaining his rhythm on offense could take longer, coach Brett Brown said. After Monday’s loss, Embiid lobbied to get back in the lineup http://www.dolphinsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-albert-wilson-jersey , writing on Instagram that he was ”sick and tired of being babied.” The return of the 76ers’ leading scorer and rebounder would mark a renewal of his rivalry with Miami’s Hassan Whiteside. They’ve feuded on social media this season.
PRESSURE IS ON: Heat president Pat Riley always says a playoff series doesn’t really begin until the road team wins a game. As of Monday, this series has begun, with Miami putting the heat on the Sixers, who are in the postseason for the first time since 2012.
WARRIORS AT SPURS
Golden State leads 2-0. Game 3, 9:30 p.m., TNT.
NEED TO KNOW: San Antonio is 30-8 at home this season, but coach Gregg Popovich stressed playing on the road isn’t why the Spurs dropped the first two games. San Antonio is shooting 26 percent on 3-pointers in the series after averaging 35 percent during the regular season. San Antonio was 4 for 28 on 3s in Game 2. ”We know it’s just like hitting in baseball – the ability to make shots,” Popovich said. ”I’m more concerned about the nuts and bolts of the game and the attitude and the fiber and the grunt and all that sort of thing.”
KEEP AN EYE ON: The Warriors’ Klay Thompson. The 6-foot-7 guard is leading Golden State in play With another dominant pitching performance, the Houston Astros didn’t need much offense – or luck – to tie a franchise record for road wins.
Lance McCullers pitched seven strong innings, Jake Marisnick homered and the Astros beat the Tampa Bay Rays 1-0 Thursday night for their 11th straight victory away from home.
McCullers (9-3) gave up three hits while striking out seven. The Astros have won his last six starts and have won 18 of 21 overall. Their latest win matched the club record set last May 14-June 5 on the way to winning the franchise’s first World Series title.
The Rays threatened in the eighth after Chris Devenski replaced McCullers to start the inning. Willy Adames and Kevin Kiermaier opened with singles to put runners at the corners. Matt Duffy failed to get a squeeze bunt down and then, with Kiermaier running, hit a rocket right at shortstop Marwin Gonzalez Denzel Ward Color Rush Jersey , who turned it into an easy double play.
”You are going to line out sometimes, it’s part of the game,” Duffy said. ”Not executing (the bunt) is definitely what I’m most frustrated with.”
Jake Bauers then grounded out to end the inning with Devenski getting his 12th straight scoreless appearance.
”We were very fortunate to just get in that situation, and then Devo makes some pitches and gets out of the tnning,” Houston manager A.J. Hinch said.
Hector Rondon pitched the ninth for his fifth save in seven opportunities, ending Tampa Bay’s five-game winning streak.
Marisnick’s homer in the fifth came off Ryan Yarbrough (7-4) and was his seventh of the season. It ended the Rays’ streak of 26 scoreless innings, the second-longest in franchise history.
It was the second homer and second multi-hit game in the last three days for Marisnick, who batted ninth for Houston.
”I’m just kind of relaxing and settling in, having a better idea of what I’m trying to do with each individual pitcher,” he said.
Tampa Bay ”bullpen day” starter Ryne Stanek walked two and struck out three in 1 2/3 hitless innings before Yarbrough took over. The rookie left-hander pitched 6 1/3 innings, giving up seven hits while striking out four.
The Rays, who beat Washington 1-0 on Tuesday http://www.redskinsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-derrius-guice-jersey , became the first American League team team to play consecutive 1-0 games in the same season since the Los Angeles Angels did it on June 28-29, 2008.
Rays reliever Jose Alvarado had a mini Gold Glove Award in his locker, a gift from a stadium security guard after the left-hander played one batter at first base in-between stints on the mound during the ninth inning of Tuesday’s 1-0 win over Washington. ”It was a little bit crazy,” Alvarado said through a translator. ”I’m just happy the team won.”
Astros: SS Carlos Correa missed a third straight game with a stiff back and will be placed on the 10-day disabled list Friday. … INF Yuli Gurriel is on the paternity list but might return this weekend.
Rays: RHP Chris Archer (left abdominal strain) had a three inning simulated game and should start a minor league rehab assignment next week. The opening-day starter could rejoin the rotation around the All-Star break.
RHP Gerrit Cole (9-1) will go for his eighth straight win for the Astros on Friday night against RHP Wilmer Font (1-1). Font pitched 5 2/3 scoreless innings against the New York Yankees on Saturday, the longest outing of his career, and earned his first major league win.