The New Orleans Pelicans have a lot to prove without their other star big man, DeMarcus Cousins, and they are off to a flying start with that. The Pelicans advanced for the first time in the playoffs since 2008 by completing the sweep of the Portland Trail Blazers with a 131-123 win on Saturday night. Anthony Davis had a playoff career high of 47 points, including 33 in the second half, where the Pelicans put up 73 points to stay ahead. That monster second half for Davis included 12 points in the final five minutes, while also adding 11 rebounds and three blocks in the win. Rajon Rondo also contributed with 16 assists, as the franchise is moving on to the second round since moving back to New Orleans in 2002. The Pelicans lost DeMarcus Cousins right at the beginning of the calendar year, which made them big underdogs, especially against the Trail Blazers, who played well enough to hold the three-seed in the Western Conference. The Blazers were coming off a blowout loss and were able to keep things close for most of Saturday, as they were led by C.J. McCollum's 38 points. Al-Farouq Aminu had 27 points, Damian Lillard added 19, and Jusuf Nurkic put up 18 points and 11 rebounds in Portland's final game of the 2017-18 campaign. The Pelicans will be up against most likely the Golden State Warriors, who are hoping to finish off the San Antonio Spurs on the road on Sunday.
Manaea Throws First No-Hitter of 2018
We now have the first no-hitter of the 2018 season and it took less than a month into the Major League Baseball season to get there. Sean Manaea threw the first no-hitter against the Boston Red Sox in 25 years on Saturday night in the Oakland Athletics' 3-0 shutout on their home field. The left-hander struck out 10 and walked two while throwing 108 pitches, as he was helped out by an overturned call midway through the game. Andrew Benintendi hit a soft grounder down the first base line, which Manaea was able to field and attempted to tag the runner. He clearly missed him with the tag, but after originally being called safe, the umpires called Benintendi out for being out of the baseline. Outside of that, there were no other real threats of hits throughout the night, as Hanley Ramirez grounded out to end the game and complete the feat. It is the first no-hitter for the Athletics since Dallas Braden's perfect game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Mother's Day in 2010. The last pitcher to no-hit the Red Sox was current Detroit Tigers pitching coach, Chris Bosio, who did it on April 23rd, 1993 with the Seattle Mariners. Manaea had an ERA of 13.50 in three previous starts against the Red Sox coming in, as he went 1-2 in those outings. This masterful outing handed the Red Sox just their third loss of the season, and snapped their eight-game winning streak.
Lightning Eliminate Devils in Five Games
The Tampa Bay Lightning had just one game that they were tested in their first round series, which came to an end on Saturday afternoon. Nikita Kucherov scored his 27th career postseason goal, as the Lightning advanced with a 3-1 win over the New Jersey Devils in Game 5. The goal for Kucherov was his fifth of the series, as he also compiled five assists to set the franchise record for points in a postseason series. The 24-year-old was the NHL's third-leading scorer with 100 points during the regular season, and now sits tied for second with Vincent Lecavalier for second on the franchise's all-time postseason scoring list with 27 goals and 25 assists in 50 career playoff games, with more opportunites to come. Andrei Vasilevskiy enjoyed the support while stopping 26 shots, while Mikhail Sergachev became the youngest player in Lightning history with a postseason goal. Ryan Callahan returned after missing the previous two games with a lower-body injury and sealed the game and series with an empty-net goal late in the third. Kyle Palmieri was assisted by Will Butcher and Taylor Hall for the only goal the Devils got on the road. The Lightning will now await the winner of the Boston Bruins-Toronto Maple Leafs series, which currently sits in the Bruins' favor heading in to Game 6.