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Portland Trail Blazers vs. New Orleans Pelicans Preview

The Blazers look to further solidify their revenge against the Pelicans Friday night.

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NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Portland Trail Blazers Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

Portland Trail Blazers (27-19) vs. New Orleans Pelicans (21-24)

Friday, January 18th, 2019 - 7:30 p.m. PT
Blazers injuries: Moe Harkless (questionable), Caleb Swanigan (questionable)
Pelicans injuries: None
How to watch on TV: NBCSNW, NBA League Pass (outside of Portland)
How to stream: YouTube Live TV, Playstation Vue, Hulu Live TV, FuboTV, NBA League Pass (outside of Portland)
Radio: 620 AM
SBN Affiliate: The Bird Writes

The Portland Trail Blazers take on the New Orleans Pelicans following a win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. Against the Cavaliers, the Blazers showed strength in distributed shooting, especially from behind the three-point line, and they kept turnovers under control with a total of four. While Evan Turner drew some attention with his headband, it was Jusuf Nurkic’s night: the Bosnian Beast lodged his first triple-double and the first for the Blazers since Nicolas Batum in 2014.

The Pelicans come to Portland after a loss to the Golden State Warriors. Despite a hot night from Nikola Mirotic, who scored 29 points after being minutes restricted in their previous game, and Anthony Davis’ contribution of 30 points, 18 rebounds, seven assists and three blocks, the Pelicans couldn’t fight back against the Warriors’ offensive onslaught in the fourth quarter.

What to watch for

  • Grudge match. There is no doubt that these two sides have some bad blood between them. The Blazers have a score to settle with the Pelicans after suffering the indignity of being swept in the playoffs, and a win over them earlier in the season hasn’t helped Rip City get over it just yet.
  • Jake Slayman. The game against the Cavs just provided more evidence for the argument that Jake Layman deserves to be a part of the regular rotation. In the last three games Layman has scored in double figures, and versus the Cavaliers he had 18 points, three rebounds, three assists, and one block. With energetic cuts, solid outside shooting, and athletic dunks, the former Maryland standout has shown why opponents should fear the turtle.
  • Offensive adjustments. Jusuf Nurkic demonstrated against the Cavaliers that he is more than just a one-trick threat. When shots weren’t there, Nurkic adjusted accordingly, assisting his teammates and racking up a triple-double in the process. If the Pelicans blitz Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum like they did in last year’s playoffs, Nurkic may need to take on a greater role within the offense.

What they’re saying

According to Andrew Lopez at the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Anthony Davis has elevated his game this season:

Davis is averaging 29.4 points, 13.3 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 2.6 blocks and 1.8 steals per game this season. Blocks were first officially recorded by the NBA in 1973-74 and since then, no NBA player has put up the kind of numbers Davis has this season. Davis is averaging a career high in points, rebounds, assists and steals.

Prior to that, only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain and Elgin Baylor posted the numbers Davis has done in points, rebounds and assists alone.

Oleh Kosel at the Bird Writes explains the impact that Elfrid Payton has had in energizing the Pelicans after recently returning from injury:

Since Elfrid’s return, New Orleans has won four of five games, momentarily reversing a free fall all the way down to 14th in the standings. While a climb to the summit of the Western Conference still looks crazy hard, one feels infinitely better about the sudden improvement made in the Pelicans playoff odds, with the team nearing full health and Elfrid Payton firmly planted back in the driver’s seat.

Over at NBC Sports, NBA Insider Tom Haberstroh explores the struggles New Orleans may face in trying to retain Anthony Davis:

But that’s really when the clock began to tick on Demps and the Pelicans organization. This was their opportunity to prove that Davis, now 25, should spend his prime years and beyond in New Orleans. This coming summer, Davis will be eligible to sign a five-year, $239 million supermax extension with the Pelicans, if the Pelicans choose to offer it. But New Orleans’ financial advantage may not be an advantage at all.

“I’d take legacy over money,” Davis told Yahoo! Sports recently.