In the highly anticipated Tim Frazier game, the Blazers get the best of their former teammate in a narrow road win against the short-handed New Orleans Pelicans. The Pelicans lost Anthony Davis with a left knee injury before halftime and couldn't find enough fire power without him to stay with the Blazers
The Blazers were led by their backcourt duo. Damian Lillard finished with 33 points and 6 assists while CJ McCollum pitched in 30 and 6 assists. Gerald Henderson gave a boost off the bench with 19 points. Ryan Anderson finished with 30 off the bench for the Pelicans and Jrue Holiday added 30 of his own. Frazier scored 13 against his former team.
The Blazers started strong by hitting their first five shots but a few questionable turnovers kept the host Pelicans close until an Aminu three and a Vonleh three point play extended the lead to 21-9. Any lingering disappointment from last night's loss in San Antonio stayed in the locker room as the Blazers played loose on offense and did a good job of contesting shots on defense.
Frazier checked in the game to lead the Pelicans' second unit and fed Ryan Anderson in the post to cut into the lead. It didn't matter which Blazer was on him as Anderson hit four straight midrange post ups. Frazier added a gutsy layup over Lillard to add some drama to the friendly matchup but 13 first quarter points by Lillard gave the Blazers a modest lead after the first.
End of First: Portland 36 New Orleans 30
The Pelicans went small to start the second but forgot that Ed Davis feasts on the boards. A couple offensive rebounds and a block by Davis pushed the lead back to 10. Gerald Henderson also played well off the bench, finishing with 14 in the first half including a few of his trademark midrange jumpers. The Pelicans injuries woes showed in their second unit and the Blazers took advantage.The guards put their heads down and attacked the Anthony Davis-less paint for countless layups and trips to the foul line.
Chris Kaman made a non-garbage time cameo to match up with a big lineup but picked up two fouls immediately. It seemed like the Pelicans were shuffling through their roster to find a lineup to pierce the Blazer lead. They brought back Anderson as a stretch four and this adjustment opened up Anthony Davis for some inside shots. Davis scored 19 in the first half to propel the Pelicans' offense before his injury. The Pelicans shot nearly 50% from the field but the Blazers combined 52% shooting with 17 free throws for a big lead.
Halftime: Portland 67 New Orleans 53
The Pelicans started the third quarter with Ryan Anderson in place of Davis who never came out of the locker room (with a left knee issue). Anderson hit some shots but without Davis, it was hard to imagine the Pelicans making a serious run. The Lillard-McCollum pairing was scoring well and even Noah Vonleh joined the party with a rare three. Besides Mason Plumlee getting viciously blocked on a dunk, the Blazers looked primed to run away with the lead.
However, the Pelicans fought hard without their star to keep within striking distance. Jrue Holiday stepped up to make some big shots and the return of Frazier gave the Pelicans a boost in the backcourt. Anthony Davis remained out but the Pelicans found a way to score without him. The Blazers offense stagnated at the end of the third and the Pelicans began to see a little light.
End of Third: Portland 93 New Orleans 81
An emphatic Anderson dunk energized the crowd and trimmed the lead to 10. Then McCollum picked up his fifth foul and momentum shifted away from the Blazers. The Blazers' high flying offense sputtered and nobody could buy a shot. Perkins was ejected for a flagrant 2 for a on Lillard but Anderson hit a three to close to 101-98 with six minutes remaining.
Henderson broke a drought with a jumper before Holiday answered with back to back threes and the Pelicans took their first lead since the first quarter. With their jumpers missing, Lillard attacked the basket and the Blazers hit some free throws to retake the lead but Frazier hit a jumper to give the Pelicans a 107-106 lead. The teams swapped leads again with two Plumlee free throws matched by a Cunningham layup. CJ McCollum answered with a huge three off a Lillard assist and Lillard iced the game with free throws.
The Blazers finish up their four game road trip in Dallas on Sunday. Early tipoff is 1 p.m. Stay tuned to Blazer's Edge tonight, for extended analysis of this game from Dave Deckard.