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first_imgNEW ORLEANS (AP) — Nikola Mirotic watched his third 3-pointer of the first half swish through the hoop, turned to acknowledge the raucous, roaring crowd and raised his first triumphantly as he trotted back up court.Portland had a hard enough time dealing with Pelicans All-Star Anthony Davis and the New Orleans backcourt of Jrue Holiday and Rajon Rondo in Games 1 and 2. Pile on the finest playoff performance of Mirotic’s four NBA seasons, and the rout was on in Game 3.Mirotic scored a career playoff-best 30 points to go with eight rebounds, three steals and a block, and the Pelicans pushed Portland to the brink of elimination with a 119-102 victory on Thursday night.“I never thought I’d score 30 or something like that,” Mirotic said. “I’m just trying to play simple. If I have a shot, take a shot, so I need to give credit to my teammates. … It’s just about the team. It’s about winning.”To illustrate how hard New Orleans has been to defend in the series, Portland coach Terry Stotts made a point of noting that Mirotic was the third different Pelicans player to score 30 in a game. Davis had 35 in Game 1 and Holiday 33 in Game 2.“New Orleans played extremely well,” Stotts said. “We arguably had one of our worst games of the year, so it was a bad combination.”Davis had 28 points, 11 rebounds, three steals and two blocks for New Orleans, which can advance past the first round of the playoffs for the first time since 2008 with one more victory. Game 4 is Saturday.Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) goes to the basket against New Orleans Pelicans forward Nikola Mirotic (3) during the first half of Game 3 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series in New Orleans, Thursday, April 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Veronica Dominach)The 6-foot-10 Mirotic, acquired in a midseason trade after DeMarcus Cousins’ season-ending Achilles tear, made 12 of 15 shots, scoring on everything from quick-release 3-pointers to cutting dunks and fast-break layups.“I knew I was capable to have games like this, but I never want to force any shots and always want to play simple, play for my teammates the same way they play for me,” Mirotic said. “I just want to show them they were right to bring me here.”Damian Lillard scored 20 for Portland, but missed nine of an unusually low 14 shots. He averaged about 19 shots per game this season, but said the Pelicans were defending him relentlessly.“They’re making me give the ball up,” Lillard said. “This is a different coverage than I’ve seen at any point in my career. … It’s two or three layers of defense. It’s tough to play against, man.”CJ McCollum scored 22 and Al-Farouq Aminu added 21, but Portland trailed by double digits for most of the first half and all of the second.The Blazers had no answer for a Pelicans offense orchestrated once again to prolific effect by Rondo, who had 16 points and 11 assists — giving him 37 assists in the series. Holiday added 16 points for New Orleans, which shot 53 percent (46 of 87).TIP-INSTrail Blazers: Starting F Evan Turner was scratched because of his toe injury sustained during Game 2 on Tuesday night. Maurice Harkless started in his place, scoring five points in 26 minutes. … The Blazers committed 24 turnovers, leading to 29 Pelicans points. … Finished 9 of 31 from 3-point range.Pelicans: Cousins was on the bench, attending his first game in New Orleans since his injury on Jan. 26. When he was shown cheering on his teammates on the main scoreboard, fans erupted into chants of “Boogie! Boogie!” … The Pelicans shot 11 of 27 from 3-point range and 16 of 19 on free throws. … Scored 62 points in the paint and 32 on fast breaks.SETTING THE TONEThe Pelicans wore alternate red uniforms and every fan was given a matching T-shirt, turning the entire packed seating area into a sea of red.The volume was high early with the crowd revved up for the first playoff game in New Orleans since 2015.The Blazers did nothing to silence the place, shooting about 35 percent and committing six turnovers in the opening quarter.New Orleans raced to an 18-point lead in the period, aided by Mirotic hitting five of his first seven shots for 14 early points.Mirotic scored 21 by halftime, which already represented a playoff career high.Davis joined the fray with his typical array of alley-oop dunks, one of which he caught with his back to the basket and threw down with a two-handed reverse jam.Rondo ran New Orleans’ offense with a tempo that gave Portland fits, and even when he was forced to settle for a deep 3 late in the shot clock, it went down, pushing the Pelicans’ lead to 20 in the first half.Portland never got closer than 13 after that and trailed by as many as 33 in the fourth quarter.FRESH LOOKPelicans coach Alvin Gentry said he’s not sure Mirotic’s decision to shave his beard had anything to do with his recent surge in production, but said the Pelicans are choosing to believe it does. He then added, “Tell Niko, no 5 o’clock shadows, OK?”UP NEXTThe series remains in New Orleans for Game 4 on Saturday night, when the Pelicans have an opportunity to complete the first playoff series sweep in franchise history.—By BRETT MARTEL , AP Sports WriterTweetPinShare0 Shareslast_img read more

first_imgNew Delhi, Jun 27 (PTI) A joint director of the Enforcement Directorate, who probed the 2G scam and is part of other sensitive cases, has made a scathing attack on Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia questioning him if he has developed animosity against him by “siding with scamsters and their affiliates”.In a letter dated June 11, 2018 sent through ED Director Karnal Singh, Rajeshwar Singh said in the last 20 years, all his appraisal reports, written by more than 50 senior IAS, IPS and IRS officers, have uniformly rated his performance as “outstanding”.”Why do you disregard their opinion? Is it possible for me to have managed all of them over a period of time,” he wrote. Singh who was a UP police officer had joined the Directorate on deputation.The letter became public today when the Supreme Court, which had given Singh protection from any action against him in the past, modified its orders.The Supreme Court maintained that the Centre was free to look into the “serious” charges against ED officer Rajeshwar Singh, probing the “highly sensitive” 2G spectrum allocation scam cases including the Aircel-Maxis deal.”You are simply an officer. You can’t be given a blanket clean chit. Everybody is accountable. You must be accountable for any action. We need to ensure that you are accountable. We don’t want to damage you or comment against you. There are very serious allegations against you,” the Bench of Justices Arun Mishra and S K Kaul told the officer. In the letter to Adhia, Rajeshwar Singh has said “It pained me further that you have expressed many a times to senior officers over casual conversations that I have been manipulating the judiciary, especially the Supreme Court of India.”advertisement”It is strange and also unbelievable that after so may years in public service, you believe that so many judges can be manipulated and that too over such a long period of time,” he said.Singh told Adhia that he had sought a personal meeting from him for explaining his side which was not granted. He said former finance minister P Chidambaram sported an open and direct grudge against him because of Supreme Court monitored Aircel-Maxis investigation. “However, what thoroughly baffles the undersigned, is the animosity you have fashioned against me by siding with scamsters and their affiliates in a sustained manner. It has become more than difficult for me to survive this continued onslaught and persistent vilification from all the quarters for doing my job,” he said. Singh said the Attorney General (AG) had requested the Supreme Court to order providing protection for him as the AG was convinced that he was being hounded but you (Adhia) do not seem to agree with the law officer too.He said his promotion in the grade of Additional Director, ED was due from April 1, 2017 which is being processed in the Finance Ministry but it has been more than seven months and there has been absolutely no progress.I am astutely aware that this is being done to not just humiliate me but also to ensure that the investigation in certain crucial cases I handle, ought to derail. May I beg to ask if you are compromising on larger aspects of our national interest to set scores on an ego trip that is absolutely uncontested from my side, he said. PTI NES/ABS SKL DIP DIPlast_img read more