Post Up: Pelicans Sweep Blazers, Sixers Go Up 3-1

Pelicans 131, Trail Blazers 123 (Pelicans win series 4-0)

The Pelicans became the first team to advance to the conference semifinals by completing a four-game sweep over the 3 seed Trail Blazers. As the 6 seed in the West, the Pelicans became the lowest seed to ever sweep a first-round series.

Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday were on their game Saturday. Davis had 47 points, including 19 in the third quarter as New Orleans extended his lead, and Holiday had 41 more to go with eight assists.

While the Pelicans led for almost the entire second half, the game was hotly contested. The officials handed out five technical fouls in the first half with the help of this wild sequence in the final minute of the second quarter:

New Orleans led by as many as 15 near the end of the third quarter, but the Blazers used a 17-4 run to pull to within two with 8:47 remaining in the game. Davis then scored eight points and Holiday scored six in the next four minutes to keep the Blazers at bay. CJ McCollum had 38 to lead Portland in scoring, and Al-Farouq Aminu scored 27.

The Pelicans will face the winner of the Warriors-Spurs series in the next round. Golden State currently leads that one 3-0.

76ers 106, Heat 102 (76ers lead 3-1)

Ben Simmons had a triple-double (17 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists) and scored nine points in the fourth quarter to lead the Sixers to a come-from-behind win in Miami. Philadelphia trailed by 12 with six minutes to play in the third quarter, but was able to cut the deficit to just four headed into the fourth — a run that Ersan Ilyasova capped with a three with 1.2 seconds to play.

Simmons was the only player on either side to score in the first two minutes of the fourth as he promptly tied the score. Joel Embiid and JJ Redick followed him to make it a 14-0 run spanning two quarters to put the Sixers up by four. They never trailed again.

Down the stretch, however, Dwyane Wade did his best to keep the Heat in the game. He scored 12 over the final eight minutes to keep the pressure on, but Philly had every answer. Simmons’ biggest basket of the game came on a dunk with just over a minute to go that answered a 5-0 run from Wade which brought the Heat to within a point.

Wade led all scorers with 25 points and Redick had 24 to lead the Sixers, who overcame 26 turnovers and 23 percent shooting from three to win the game.

Timberwolves 121, Rockets 105 (Rockets lead 2-1)

It was the Timberwolves’ first home playoff game since 2004, and they gave their fans a memorable performance. Jimmy Butler led the way with 28 points as Minnesota took down the top seed in the West. The Timberwolves led by just three at halftime but methodically built a third-quarter lead behind eight points from Karl-Anthony Towns. He finished with 18 points overall and a game-high 16 rebounds. Minnesota led by as many as 19 early in the fourth, but the Rockets battled back, pulling to within nine on a James Harden three-point play with 6:34 remaining. Jeff Teague answered immediately with a three-point play of his own. Then he and Butler hit back-to-back threes in a span of 21 seconds that essentially put the game away. Harden scored 29 and also had seven rebounds and seven assists to lead the Rockets.

Jazz 115, Thunder 102 (Jazz lead 2-1)

Ricky Rubio turned in a stellar performance, earning chants of “Ru-bi-o!” from the Utah crowd throughout the night. He finished with a triple-double with 26 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists. The veteran guard set the tone early when he scored 14 of the Jazz’ 15 points during a second-quarter run. In the second half, it was more of the same as he found ways to contribute throughout:

Rudy Gobert (18 points, 12 rebounds) and Donovan Mitchell (22 points, 11 rebounds) helped him out with double-doubles of their own. Paul George scored 23 to lead the Thunder.