NEW ORLEANS -- Anthony Davis said that teammate DeMarcus Cousins would receive a "standing ovation when he comes out here hobbling" for the Pelicans' home playoff opener Thursday night in Game 3 against the Portland Trail Blazers, and he was correct.
When Cousins was shown cheering on his teammates on the main scoreboard late in the third quarter, fans erupted into chants of "Boogie! Boogie!''
Cousins was sitting courtside at the Smoothie King Center for the first time since he tore his Achilles in January. Up until this week, Cousins had been rehabbing in Los Angeles and was restricted from air travel. He did join the team for two road games in Los Angeles.
"It means a lot to us. I think it means a lot to him, as well, to be here supporting us," Davis said after Cousins was at the team's morning shootaround, chatting with teammates and coaches while wearing a walking boot on his left foot. "To be here, to be in front of his fans ... it's gonna be fun to see him back on the bench."
Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday also suggested before Thursday's 119-102 win that the game could be a recruiting effort for New Orleans, since Cousins is scheduled to be a free agent this summer.
"It's awesome. See what the future is like for him -- you know what I mean?" Holiday said with a smile. "To be able to come in here and have this atmosphere, especially at home, playoff atmosphere, it's great."
This was the first home playoff game for the sixth-seeded Pelicans since they were swept by the Golden State Warriors in Round 1 of the 2015 playoffs. But this time, they came home with a 2-0 lead over third-seeded Portland -- and as Holiday said, they were expecting a "crazy" atmosphere.
When asked about how the Blazers will be "desperate" considering the circumstances, Davis responded, "We're desperate, too."
"I think that's what makes us so great, we play every game with desperation. So we know they're desperate, but we're desperate to get a win at home, too," said Davis, who said the Pelicans have gotten this far by staying "even keel" -- even when they're down in games.
"You gotta stay even-keel," Davis said. "We know a series can change. We've seen it many times."