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.