The Trail Blazers surrendered 73 points to the Pelicans in the first half of their 128-115 loss on Friday. The contest marked Portland’s first game since the All-Star Game and it was a reminder that the issues on the defensive end remain prominent.
After the game, Portland Tribune’s Kerry Eggers captured coach Terry Stotts’ comments on the subject. Stotts acknowledged that the Blazers are understaffed, but he was clear that he was not pleased with the defense against the Pelicans.
“We’re shorthanded, and I thought it was a good effort by our team,” Portland coach Terry Stotts said. “I was disappointed with our defense in the first half. We had a better effort the second half.”
CJ McCollum, who took the reins of Portland’s offense in Lillard’s absence, explained that generating points is not an issue for the current squad. Instead, the Blazers must find a way to minimize the issues on the defensive end.
“We competed, but we just had some lapses defensively,” McCollum said. “We fouled a lot in the first half. (The Pelicans) shot 28 free throws in the half. That’s way too many easy points.
”We figure out ways to score. We always have. We’ve just got to tighten it up at the other end.”
The Pelicans connected on 53.6 percent of their attempts from the field and converted 52.9 percent of their three-point shots on Friday. As a result of the victory, New Orleans now owns a perfect 4-0 record against Portland this season. The Pelicans are currently a single win behind the Blazers in the Western Conference standings.