The Portland Trail Blazers saw their road trip come to a merciful end on Sunday night, and it finished the same way it started—with a blowout defeat. They were bludgeoned by the New Orleans Pelicans 127-110 in a game where the final score wasn’t truly indicative of the home team’s domination. Portland, playing without star Damian Lillard—who was a late scratch due to injury—trailed by as many as 39 points in the second half as they dropped their third consecutive game to finish their trip 2-4.
Meanwhile, the Pelicans, playing on the second night of a back-to-back and without arguably their best player, Brandon Ingram (in addition to the prolonged absence of Zion Williamson), looked no worse for the wear. Trey Murphy III went off for a career-high 41 points in the contest. He connected on nine three-pointers, just one less than the entire Blazers team. The victory was just New Orleans’ third in their last ten games, two of which have now come against Portland.
Anfernee Simons was the Blazers’ top performer with 17 points, though he was joined by four Portland reserves in double-figure scoring.
For a quarter-by-quarter breakdown, see our Instant Recap. The following were the key takeaways from the blowout in the Big Easy.
What happens when you cross a road-weary, struggling team without their best player against a hungry, disappointing squad coming off of a blowout loss at home? Fans got the answer Sunday night. The Pelicans, still smarting from their defeat at the hands of Oklahoma City Thunder less than 24 hours prior, exercised a seasons worth of frustrations on the hapless Blazers. Like a shark smelling blood in the water, New Orleans pounced early against the listless Blazers to quickly build a double-digit lead they would never relinquish.
The Pelicans scored at will for much of the night against Portland’s near non-existent defense, which offered the resistance level of a set of standard traffic cones. Meanwhile, while Portland was able to score, their offense was far from a well-oiled machine. They committed 17 turnovers on the night, seven of which came in the pivotal first quarter in which they were outscored 42-25 despite shooting 60% from the field in the frame.
Glimmer of Hope
While it’s difficult to find a positive aspect in a game as one-sided as was on display, there was a brief stretch where Portland played solid ball. It featured an interesting lineup of Simons, Cam Reddish, Matisse Thybulle, Nassir Little, and Trendon Watford. Spear-headed by Little’s infectious energy on both ends of the floor, the team opened the first seven minutes of the second quarter on 21-11 run to cut the lead to seven. All five players got involved in the action, and were able to excel defensively without a true center on the floor. While things went downhill from there, it was a borderline exciting span on an otherwise dreary night.
The deep bench also deserves credit for a bit of window dressing in the fourth quarter to make the final score more respectable. Kevin Knox in particular played well, scoring 14 points on 6-7 shooting (2-3 from three) over 12 minutes in his first extended run in a Blazer uniform. Portland outscored New Orleans 37-18 in the fourth, but the game had been well decided by that point.
The Blazers (31-36) return home after six games on the road to host the New York Knicks on Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. PT. The team will also be holding a public celebration of life for legendary broadcaster Bill Schonely on Monday at 4:00 p.m. at Veterans Memorial Coliseum.