The Portland Trail Blazers have been trying to find the answer to their defensive woes, which seemed to have worsened with the absence of Nigerian forward Al-Farouq Aminu, for the last few weeks of the season. But if their last two games have been any indication, whatever the Trail Blazers are looking for, they’re not finding it on the road. Portland fell to 7-7 on the season and 3-4 away from the Moda Center this season after a 113-101 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans in front of a crowd of 15,552 at Smoothie King Center Friday night.
The Trail Blazers have now lost three straight for the first time this season. Despite shooting just 33 percent from the field, the Blazers managed to stay close to the Pelicans thanks to shooting 4-of-7 from three and five second-chance points. Going into the second quarter trailing 31-28 had to feel like a victory considering the Pelicans shot better than 50 percent from both the field and three as former Trail Blazer Tim Frazier put up 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting.
But the percentages would catch up to the road team in the second quarter. Portland was unable to slow down Anthony Davis, who shook off a 1-of-6 start to shoot 6-of-6 from the field in the second, or any other Pelican for that matter, as evidenced by the home team shooting 14-of-21 in the quarter.
And while the Trail Blazers’ shooting would improve in the second, that improvement would be marginal, allowing the Pelicans to take a 13-point lead into the intermission after finishing the half on a 19-10 run. And just like the night prior in Houston, things would only get worse for Portland in the second half.
The Blazers would cut New Orleans’ lead to eight midway through the third quarter, but got no closer than that. The Pelicans would ultimately push their lead to 20 in the fourth before coasting to the 12-point victory, only their third of the 2016/17 season. The Blazers were led by Damian Lillard, who shot 8-of-24 from the field for 27 points, three rebounds and two assists in 35 minutes.
CJ McCollum went 7-of-18 for 24 points while handing out five assists and grabbing three rebounds in 36 minutes. Mason Plumlee put up a double-double of 13 points, 12 rebounds while also handing out a team-high seven assists. Ed Davis, who got his the first start of his Trail Blazers career Friday night, grabbed 11 rebounds in 21 minutes.
The Pelicans got yet another MVP-calibre performance from Anthony Davis, who flirted with a triple-double before finishing the game with 38 points, nine rebounds, six assists and four blocks in 36 minutes. Jrue Holiday made his first appearance of the season and responded by putting up 21 points and seven assists in 23 minutes. Frazier finished with 12 points and eight assists.
By Casey Holdahl