Pelicans-Trail Blazers Preview
With Damian Lillard playing his best basketball of the season,
the Portland Trail Blazers should be able to get back to winning in
the opener of a three-game homestand.
The surprising Trail Blazers look to continue their home
dominance Saturday night while keeping Anthony Davis and the New
Orleans Pelicans winless on their road swing.
Portland (22-5) came up short in its bid to sweep its recent
trip, falling behind by as many as 32 in the second quarter en
route to a 120-109 loss at Minnesota on Wednesday.
Playing their fourth road game in five nights, the Blazers
rallied to outscore the Timberwolves 66-51 in the second half and
cut the deficit to five with 46 seconds to play before losing for
the first time in six games.
“You know last year, that probably would’ve been a game where we
just said all right we’re going to give it a shot in the third
quarter and in the fourth quarter we probably would’ve ended up
laying down,” Lillard said. “But we fought back, and I think with a
minute and a half it was a game.”
Lillard finished with 36 points, seven 3-pointers, six assists,
six rebounds and three steals. Batum added 20 points and Wesley
Matthews had 16. LaMarcus Aldridge, an early-season MVP candidate,
had 15 points and 14 boards despite missing 15 of his 22 shots.
Lillard is coming off an eventful trip, hitting last-second
shots in wins at Detroit and Cleveland to give the Blazers the
NBA’s best record before Wednesday’s loss. In his last two games,
the reigning rookie of the year has totaled 72 points while going
15 of 26 from 3-point range.
He had 16 points and sank four 3s – including the game-winner
with 0.3 seconds remaining – to lead Portland to a 95-94 win in his
only career home meeting with New Orleans on Dec. 16, 2012.
The Blazers, 10-2 at home this season, have put up at least 111
points in three of their last four at Moda Center, including a
130-98 rout of Utah on Dec. 6. They’re seeking their fifth straight
home win against New Orleans (11-13), among the NBA’s worst
defensive teams on the road with 106.7 points allowed per game.
The Pelicans (11-13) are 0-3 on their five-game trip, losing by
an average of 11.0 points following a 108-95 defeat against the Los
Angeles Clippers on Wednesday.
Davis finished with 24 points and 12 rebounds in his return
after missing seven games with a broken left hand. The second-year
forward had a combined 39 points and 21 boards in consecutive
victories over the Blazers – both in New Orleans.
“It’s great just to get back out there with my teammates, have
fun and do the things that I’m used to doing,” Davis said. “I’ve
got to get back in a rhythm. You can work out for as much as you
want and train as much as you want, but that game rhythm is a lot
different. Hopefully it won’t take me long to get my shot back and
the plays I usually make and get back in the groove.”
Ryan Anderson had 17 points and Tyreke Evans posted his second
career triple-double with 11 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists
after missing the past two games with a sprained left ankle.
While Anderson has scored 26.2 per game over his last five on
the road, the Pelicans have averaged 93.7 points on 40.2 percent
shooting on this trip.