2018 NBA playoffs™: Pelicans crush Trail Blazers® to take 3-0 series lead

The Golden State Warriors took a commanding 3-0 lead over the San Antonio Spurs with a 110-97 victory Thursday night, but the focus after the game was on the health status of Kevin Durant and Shaun Livingston, both of whom tweaked their left ankles in the game’s final five minutes.

Both walked off under their own power – and Durant later went to the locker room without even much of a limp – but for a Warriors team already missing Stephen Curry, they can ill-afford to have more players miss time.

With two days off before Game 4 on Sunday afternoon, the Warriors should have enough time to get everyone healthy and ready to go for a closeout game to move on to the second round, where they’ll likely meet the New Orleans Pelicans.

Durant had 26 points, nine rebounds and six assists for Golden State, while Klay Thompson added 19 points. Livingston added 16 points and Quinn Cook chipped in 12 off the bench.

LaMarcus Aldridge had 18 points, 10 rebounds and four assists for San Antonio, and the Spurs managed to hang around until midway through the third quarter. But Golden State played mostly mistake-free basketball, only committing 10 turnovers, and the Spurs simply couldn’t score enough to get a victory for Coach Gregg Popovich, who was away from the team following the death of his wife, Erin, Wednesday.

Forego the stubble, reduce your opponent to rubble

Nikola Mirotic has been on fire for the past eight games – including scoring 30 points for the New Orleans Pelicans in their blowout win in Game 3 over the Portland Trail Blazers to go up 3-0 in their first round series.

So what is the reason for it? According to Pelicans Coach Alvin Gentry, it’s Gillette.

Mirotic arrived clean-shaven for an April 4 game, and scored 25 points in a win over the Memphis Grizzlies. His teammates told him he had to stay clean shaven after that, and Mirotic has been – with exceptional results.

It looks like that’s going to be the case for at least a couple more weeks, as the Pelicans now are overwhelming favorites to advance to face another team that’s up 3-0, the Golden State Warriors, in the second round.

Pelicans on the verge of wrapping it up

The Portland Trail Blazers and New Orleans Pelicans were expected to play a long, competitive playoff series.

Instead, it could end with a sweep.

The Pelicans routed the Trail Blazers in New Orleans Thursday, winning 119-102 to take a commanding 3-0 lead. It could end as soon as Game 4 Saturday evening.

Nikola Mirotic finished with 30 points, eight rebounds, two assists and three steals for New Orleans, while Anthony Davis had 28 points, 11 rebounds, two assists and three steals and both Jrue Holiday and Rajon Rondo had 16 points.

It was another rough game for Damian Lillard, who has had a nightmare of a series. Lillard managed 20 points, but went 5-for-14 and had eight turnovers, eight of 24 for Portland on the night, which led to 35 Pelicans points. Portland also went 9-for-31 from three-point range, and outside of Lillard, C.J. McCollum and Al-Farouq Aminu the Trail Blazers were 1-for-9 from deep.

No damage to Embiid’s mouth

Joel Embiid may have had a facial fracture, but his mouth is working just fine.

After a strong return to the court in Philadelphia’s 128-108 victory in Game 3 over the Miami Heat – scoring 23 points to go with seven rebounds, four assists and three blocks in 30 minutes – the Sixers’ star big man had a few things to say.

Among them:

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