Trying to rebound from an ugly loss in Houston, the Portland Trail Blazers ran out of gas against the New Orleans Pelicans, falling on the road 113-101 Friday as the team lost its third in a row to fall to 7-7 on the young season. The contest was not as close as the score indicated.
Playing on the second night of the dreaded back-to-back, the Blazers looked admittedly more inspired than it did in Thursday's 17-point beat down to the Rockets, but ultimately couldn't overcome a lousy shooting night and Anthony Davis.
The Blazers were led by Damian Lillard (27 points, 3 rebounds), but shot only 8-24 from the field, C.J. McCollum (24 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds), and Mason Plumlee, who had a near triple-double (13 points, 12 rebounds, 7 assists).
The Pelicans were led by Anthony Davis (38 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists, 4 blocks).
It didn't take long to see if coach Terry Stotts would make any big adjustments, as Ed Davis made his first start as a Blazer in place of the injured Al-Farouq Aminu. With a match-up against All-World Anthony Davis as the prize, Davis more or less proved his worth, playing some good defense on "The Brow" - during the first quarter at least - holding him to just 2 points on 1-6 shooting in the period.
Former Blazer Tim Frazier was clearly pumped to go against his former squad, and even got the best of Lillard for most of the opening 12 minutes, scoring eight of the Pelicans' first 14 points as New Orleans built an early lead, despite its star not getting into the offense. Frazier drew two quick fouls on Lillard early and then had his way with the Portland defense.
Maurice Harkless stayed hot from beyond the three-point arch, draining two from deep, and along with McCollum helped keep the Blazers alive as the Pelicans couldn't miss.
End of First: Portland 28, New Orleans 31
New Orleans didn't cool off at all during the second quarter, getting a boost from Jrue Holiday, who made his debut off the bench after being away from the team for its first 12 games. Holiday had just five points, but his presence seemed to energize the Pelicans they continued to build upon the lead.
Not one to be contained for long stretches, Davis came alive towards the end of the half, torching the Blazers for 14 points from just about everywhere on the court. His running floater with 24 seconds remaining gave New Orleans its biggest lead of the half, which it would keep heading into the locker room.
Lillard managed to produce despite shooting poorly, scoring 15 in the half, and also got some help from Plumlee, who turned in a couple of fine stretches for 10 points of his own. But the Pelicans shot over 50 percent both from three and the floor overall to preserve an all-too-familiar for Blazer fans double-digit lead.
Halftime: Portland 51, New Orleans 64
After struggling during the first half, Portland's starters were flat-out beaten for much of the third period, as New Orleans' lead ballooned to as much as 17 on Holiday's and-1 layup.
Maybe sensing some frustration, Frazier and Lillard shared some moments of chippiness but were quickly defused. Dame's shooting woes continued, getting held to only three points in the decisive quarter as Portland perhaps began to shows signs of fatigue.
End of Third: Portland 69, New Orleans 84
The Pelicans didn't run away with it right away, thanks to a late effort from Lillard and McCollum, the former drilling a deep three which brought the Blazers as close as 11 with just over six minutes to go. But New Orleans continued to lean on Davis, who added another nine points to his brilliant evening to keep Portland comfortably at bay. His three at the 3:14 mark pushed the deficit to 20 and all but extinguished any hopes for a comeback.
The Blazers get a much needed day off before heading east to take on the Brooklyn Nets Sunday afternoon at 12:30 pm. Stay tuned to Blazer's Edge tonight for extended analysis of this game from Willy Raedy.
-- Ryan Rosback | email@example.com | Twitter