PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) The Portland Trail Blazers have proven their mettle with a couple of big comebacks this season.
Last week they rallied from 23 points down to defeat Charlotte, and then Monday night they erased a 16-point, third-quarter deficit to beat the New Orleans Pelicans 102-93.
”We don’t want to do that often,” LaMarcus Aldridge said.
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But it’s nice to know they can.
”That will pay off down the road in January and February because we’ll know that no matter what, we have a chance to come back and win the game,” coach Terry Stotts said.
Damian Lillard scored 24 points, including a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 1:14 left, to help Portland win its fifth straight game – the longest current streak in the NBA.
Aldridge, back after missing a game with an illness, added 22 points and nine rebounds.
Anthony Davis had 31 points and 11 rebounds for the Pelicans.
Wesley Matthews hit a 3 to tie it at 91, and Robin Lopez’s layup gave Portland its first lead of the second half with 2:23 left. Lillard’s 3-pointer put the Blazers in front 96-93, and they made free throws the rest of the way.
Portland outscored the Pelicans 34-13 in the fourth quarter.
”We had good looks. We just missed our opportunities,” Davis said. ”We’ve got to play better with the lead. We were kind of forcing up shots instead of settling the ball down.”
Aldridge returned after sitting out a game because of an upper respiratory illness. Portland starting forward Nicolas Batum missed his fourth straight game because of a bruised right knee.
Batum had said he hoped to return in time for this game.
The Pelicans were without center Omer Asik, who is nursing a sore back. The 7-footer was averaging nine points and 10 rebounds. Alexis Ajinca started in his place.
The Blazers jumped out to an 8-0 lead but the Pelicans came back to tie it at 11 on Davis’ basket, and the teams wrestled back and forth from there.
Ryan Anderson’s 3-pointer for New Orleans tied the game at 35 – and touched off a 10-2 Pelicans run capped by another basket from Anderson.
The Pelicans stayed in front for a 49-42 lead at the break, then came out of the locker room with a 9-2 run to go ahead 58-44.
Tyreke Evans hit a 3-pointer that put New Orleans up 77-62 before the start of the fourth quarter.
CJ McCollum made a 3 and Aldridge hit a long jumper that closed Portland to 85-80 with 7:24 left.
Davis answered with a tip shot, but Aldridge’s layup on the other end kept it close and Lopez’s layup narrowed the lead to 87-84 with 6:03 to go.
”We can’t keep letting ourselves get in those holes because every time we’re not going to be able to come back,” said Lillard, who led Portland in scoring for the fourth consecutive game. ”But I think it’s something that you’ve got to be able to do. You’ve got to be able to dig out of a hole sometimes.”
Pelicans: It was the first of a four-game Western swing. … F Luke Babbitt began his NBA career with the Blazers from 2010-2013. After a brief stint in Russia, he signed with New Orleans last February.
Trail Blazers: Lillard, who got off to a slow start this season, was selected the Western Conference player of the week Monday. In three games last week, Lillard averaged 28 points, 4.7 rebounds and 8.7 assists.
Portland center Chris Kaman had 15 points and 10 rebounds off the bench for his first double-double with the Blazers since signing as a free agent in the offseason. It was the 173rd double-double of his career. He also became the first Portland reserve since Arvydas Sabonis with five straight games with at least 12 points and five rebounds.
Pelicans coach Monty Williams assessed the loss: ”We had the game under control, and our fourth-quarter execution was about as bad as it has been all year long. Our shot selection in the fourth quarter, our execution in the fourth quarter – it led to them being in transition, which is why they scored 34 points and we scored 13. I just don’t think we had the next-level stuff we talk about all the time.”