First thing's first: You're not going to outright stop Anthony Davis. Uh, yeah - that's a big NO. After the game, Anthony Davis - who scored 35 points in his first-ever postseason win - credited "Playoff Rondo" with keeping the team together. We know that we're capable of doing it here in this arena. But let's look at some highlights.
"They stole one from us here, and we felt like that was a game that we should have had".
New Orleans increased the edge to 43-32 late in the second quarter.
This unit gave the Blazers the lead, which is an encouraging sign as the Blazers - hopefully - go deep into the playoffs.
McCollum's jumper brought Portland within 88-83 with 3:33 left. The Blazers shot 31.9 percent from the field before intermission, including 3 of 17 from 3-point range.
This was part of an overall poor-shooting first half for both teams.
And it didn't get much better.
They didn't do that.
New Orleans increased the margin to 69-50 on a Holiday layup midway through the third quarter. All eyes - and criticism - will rightfully fall upon Lillard and McCollum, but the main reason that Portland lost this game by only two points was the play of their bench.
Lillard knocked down a 3-pointer to draw Portland within 77-70 with 9:06 remaining. It still seemed safe when Davis threw down a thunderous alley-oop slam from Rondo with 6:09 to play, letting out a scream as Portland took an 86-72 lead.
And with a chance to take the lead, Lillard drove hard to the basket and then - rather than trying to finish the drive - he hesitated, hoping to draw a foul that never came.
That was a bit of a head-scratcher.
After a timeout, Portland's Pat Connaughton tried for a dunk and was blocked from behind by Holiday. If Jusuf Nurkic can utilize some physicality on Davis and get the Pelicans off their game plan, the Blazers should be able to be successful.
"We were just starting to find our groove before he went out and when he got hurt it kind of pushed us back", Davis said.
Lillard finished with 18 points (on 6/23 field goals), seven rebounds and seven assists. Nikola Mirotic was stellar with 16 points, 11 rebounds, two steals, and four blocks. Evan Turner finished with 13 points and was the Blazers' most effective scorer for long stretches of the game. "The way he played tonight with 17 assists, he's just in a different mode for the playoffs".
New Orleans will play Portland in Game 2 on Tuesday, April 17th at 10:30 P.M ET.