The Blazers were led by Damian Lillard's 29 points and 5 assists, with support from LaMarcus Aldridge (18 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists), Wesley Matthews (18 points, 6 rebounds), Nicolas Batum (11 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists) and Robin Lopez (14 points, 7 rebounds).
First Quarter: Not a good start, as the Pelicans hit everything they tossed toward the rim, giving them an early 18-7 lead. Portland's defense couldn't stop any shots, but even the defended shots were falling. The Blazers settled down and started to close the gap, forcing Pelicans (and former Blazer assistant) Coach Monty Williams to call timeout. But Aldridge struggled all quarter, and no Blazer stepped up, and New Orleans kept the lead after one.
New Orleans 26, Portland 21
Second Quarter: Say hello to Meyers Leonard, who replaced Thomas Robinson in the rotation! Lillard cut the deficit to three, but the Pelicans held strong against the Blazer bench. When Portland cut the lead to two, New Orleans easily scored 7 points in about a minute to rebuild their lead. That brought the Blazer starters back. They attempted a run, but New Orleans easily held if off, pushing the lead into double digits. But the starters beared down on D, and when Lillard swished a three, followed by a step-back jumper, the game was suddenly tied. After Anthony Davis scored, Lillard responded with another three to take the lead. Davis scored at the other end to barely keep a lead.
New Orleans 53, Portland 52
Third Quarter: A Lopez offensive rebound and layup gave the Blazers the lead, and Matthews followed it up with a second easy layup. The Blazers picked up the defense, and New Orleans had no response. By the time Aldridge dunked on the break, the Blazers had a 10 point lead. Out of a timeout, New Orleans fought back, keeping the lead in single digits. As the Blazers struggled to score, Davis and Eric Gordon pulled the Pelicans close, keeping the game in doubt after three, despite a perfect Blazer oop to close the quarter.
Portland 83, New Orleans 78
Fourth Quarter: Lillard and Dorell Wright made back to back three-pointers to give the Blazers a little cushion again, and even Leonard scored. New Orleans pushed into the cushion, but Tyreke Evans missed two free throws, and a three pointer restored the 10-point Blazer lead. New Orleans took a timeout. Anthony Morrow hit a jumper to close the gap to 6 with six minutes left, then a three-pointer to cut it to 5 with five minutes left. Davis hit a jumper to cut it to three as the crowd looked nervous. Evans got his own rebound and scored to make it a one point game with 4 minutes left, as the Blazers kept missing. A Davis free throw tied the game with 3:15 left, followed by Lillard's fifth foul and more Davis free throws for the lead. Lillard tied it up, but another Davis dunk restored the lead with 2:15 left. Matthews missed a three, but after drawing a charge, Lillard nailed a three to regain the lead with 1:30 left. Tyreke had two straight shots somehow rim out, and Matthews made the Pelicans pay for a double-team with a layup. And Evans layup cut the lead to one with 20 seconds left, but the Pelicans let 8 seconds run off the clock before fouling Batum, who hit both. Down three, New Orleans got two three point attempts to tie, but missed both and the Blazers held on for a win!
A whole bunch of days off, at last, then a game Thursday night at home against the Clippers. But stay tuned for much more from Dave and Ben tonight. -- Tim
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