If there was any remaining question as to whether the Portland Trail Blazers had waved the white flag on their season, it was answered emphatically on Monday night. Sitting four starters, including Damian Lillard, the team turned in a lifeless performance as they were blown out by the New Orleans Pelicans by a final score of 124-90. The loss marked their third straight and ninth over the last ten contests.
The Pelicans, on the other hand, have now won five games in-a-row as they fight to secure a Play-In Tournament berth, or even a playoff spot outright. Brandon Ingram led the way with 29 points in 31 minutes, while former Blazer CJ McCollum chipped in 17 points and eight assists. Keon Johnson led the Blazers with 20 points and six assists on the night, logging 31 minutes off the bench.
For a quarter-by-quarter breakdown, see our Instant Recap. Here were the key takeaways from Monday’s action.
Nassir Little gave the Blazers a 2-0 lead on a midrange jumper on the team’s opening possession, in what proved to be Portland’s high-water mark for the night. It was all Pelicans from there. Ingram nearly outscored the entire Blazer team in the first quarter (14-13), and Portland managed just 35 points in the first half. They didn’t break the 60-point mark until the fourth quarter.
New Orleans dominated the contest in every facet, outrebounding Portland 53-29 (center Jonas Valancuinas had 21 alone), and doubling them up in assists. Portland was held below 40% shooting in the game, and was a paltry 7-33 from three-point land—going 1-17 from distance in the first half. The entire game can be boiled down to one simple fact: the Pelicans put a competitive lineup on the floor and the Blazers didn’t.
Back to Earth
While the Blazers are used to losing by this point, rookie Shaedon Sharpe has offered a glimmer of hope over the last three games. Entering Monday’s contest, he turned in a career-best stretch with point totals of 24, 24, and 29 against the Jazz, Bulls, and Thunder respectively. The Pelicans held the youngster in check, hounding him defensively as the only consistent offensive threat in Portland’s patchwork starting lineup.
Sharpe was limited to 12 points over 35 minutes, going just 5-13 from the field. He was held below 40% shooting from the field for the first time in nearly a month. In total, the five Blazers starters combined for just 37 points.
The Blazers host the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. PT, in the first of back-to-back meetings between the two clubs in Portland.