The Portland Trail Blazers put an end to the New Orleans Pelicans’ four-game winning streak, playing tight defense down the stretch to hold on 119-104 at home; a much-needed turnaround after allowing the Cleveland Cavaliers to score 137 points on Wednesday. CJ McCollum led the offensive charge, but it was a strong effort from the collective that kept the Pelicans at bay. The game of runs was won with defensive stops at important junctures. In the shadow of a disappointing 1-4 road trip, the Trail Blazers looked reasonably, well, good.
Blazers defense has stops on five consecutive possessions. They are on a 15-2 run and have taken 47-43 lead.— Jason Quick (@jwquick) November 26, 2016
Jake Layman is not the answer to the Blazers' problems. But he's pretty solid every time he plays real minutes.— Mike Richman (@mikegrich) November 26, 2016
How 'bout them Blazers?— Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) November 26, 2016
» https://t.co/60VTUZiqMc « pic.twitter.com/PEtDidUSQK
As is customarily the case, former Trail Blazer Tim Frazier was well-received by the Moda Center crowd. His brief stint in Portland ended abruptly in February, when he was waived to make room for Anderson Varejao, but he has since thrived in his new NBA home. After the game, he voiced his appreciation for the fans and for head coach Terry Stotts, who celebrated his 58th birthday last night.
Regarding McCollum’s impact on the game, Trail Blazers digital reporter Casey Holdahl writes:
While the Trail Blazers actually trailed 34-32 going into the second quarter Friday night, McCollum getting off to yet another strong start on the offensive end put Portland in position to hang tight while they worked on putting together a better defensive performance (New Orleans shot 63 percent from the field in the first quarter).
So between McCollum’s second-quarter scoring — he went 3-of-6 from the field and 2-of-2 from the line for nine points — and improved defensive effort, Portland was able to outscore New Orleans 34-23 in the quarter to take a 66-57 lead into the intermission, a lead they would never relinquish in the second half.
Jason Quick of CSN NW provides a late-game snapshot of a pivotal moment:
The Blazers had just given up an uncontested dunk to Terrence Jones when Meyers Leonard and Evan Turner got mixed up in coverage, cutting what was once a 17-point lead to 105-99.
Whatever was said in that timeout, it worked, as the Blazers and their defense turned around a close game and cruised to a 119-104 win over the New Orleans Pelicans at the Moda Center, thanks to big offensive nights from Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum and a near-triple double from Mason Plumlee.
After the timeout, the Blazers' defense -- which entered the game with the NBA's worst defensive rating -- got stops on nine of the final 11 possessions. Lillard had 27 points, McCollum 24 and Plumlee had 12 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists.
The Trail Blazers (9-9) get one day to rest before hosting the Houston Rockets (10-6) on Sunday at 6:00 p.m. PT. In order to rise to expectations, the team will have to sustain the higher level of play we saw last night, and even improve upon it to hang with the league’s heavy hitters.