Lillard leads Blazers to win over Pelicans
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Portland was trailing by three points with under five minutes left in the game and Damian Lillard was determined to keep the Trail Blazers’ losing streak from reaching five games.
Lillard nailed a 3-pointer from the corner to tie the game and give Portland the momentum it needed to snap its four-game skid with a 111-103 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday night.
Lillard finished with 27 points, Nicolas Batum added 22 and Wesley Matthews had 20 for the Trail Blazers, who played without All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge. He was sitting out with a back contusion.
Anthony Davis scored a career-high 36 points for New Orleans and Brian Roberts added 19. Tyreke Evans and Eric Gordon added 16 apiece after both missed one game because of illness.
Portland was trailing 94-89 with 7:30 to go in the fourth quarter when Lillard scored the game’s next seven points, and his jumper with 4:15 gave the Trail Blazers the lead for good at 96-94.
"Up to that point I hadn’t been able to get it going the entire game," Lillard said. "… Coach Stotts just kept deciding to put me in ball screens and in situations where I could attack; especially late in the game. My shot started to fall. I was able to make some plays and get it going a little bit."
Wrapping up a five-game road trip, Portland opened the game on a 10-2 run. From there it became a back-and-forth affair that featured 18 lead changes with no team ever having a double-digit advantage. Davis’ alley-oop dunk with under 3 seconds to go in the half gave the Pelicans a 55-53 lead at the break.
"A much-needed win needless to say," Stotts said. "I was proud of the way we competed and kept focused. … Everybody that was on the floor tonight really had an impact on the game."
The game was tied 75-75 with 3:36 to go in the third quarter when the Pelicans went on a 6-0 run to grab an 81-75 lead. They stayed in front until midway through the final quarter, when Lillard scored 16 points to lead Portland to victory.
Emotional throughout the game, particularly after his jumper gave Portland the lead for good in the fourth quarter, Lillard said the victory was crucial to his team’s postseason hopes.
"I mean we had lost four games in a row," he said. "Then we finally were able to close a team out in the fourth quarter and come away with the victory. It was a great feeling."
New Orleans coach Monty Williams wasn’t surprised by Lillard’s performance.
"You know what he’s capable of doing," he said. "Some of the stuff is un-guardable like the last 3-pointer he made. Our guys know that when he’s going left late game, you know he’s going to raise up. We just didn’t execute that well. We’ve played against him a number of times the past two years so you’ve got to know what to expect."
Davis scored 30-plus points for the sixth time this season
"I didn’t care about that," he said. "I only care about winning. We lost, so all of that is up to you guys. We just didn’t get the stops. I missed some shots. They (Portland) made some shots. We just have to defend. We can’t let them score thirty-something points in one quarter. We especially need to defend."
NOTES: Davis received the February Kia Community Assist Award in recognition of his community work around NBA All-Star 2014 festivities. … Davis tied the New Orleans franchise record for most consecutive games with 28-plus points with his 36 Friday night against the Trail Blazers.