(WVUE) - As the NBA Playoffs typically go, nothing comes easy. The Pelicans took a double-digit lead into the fourth quarter, and needed every bit of that 12-point advantage down the stretch against the Blazers' sharp shooting Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.
"Dame is not going to just go away quietly. He never has and never will. We knew that they'd make a charge," said Pelicans Head Coach Alvin Gentry.
But the Pelicans were able to take Portland's best punch and fight back, much like they've done all season long.
"Honestly man, I think we're all just really excited to be here and be playing. I think we're all appreciative of everything we've been through this season. Just to get this first win under our belt builds a lot of confidence for the next game and here on out," said Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday.
As much as the Pelicans did well, Coach Gentry says there's always room for improvement, especially on offense. A few more made baskets late, and they could have put this game away a lot sooner.
"I thought we got a little stagnant, and stopped running and started playing isolation basketball, and that's not who we are," said Gentry.
If they tune that area of their game out for Game 2, and keep playing defense at such a high level, the Pelicans could be headed back to New Orleans with a serious, series advantage.