The Pelicans got off to a good fast start against the Trail Blazers, leading 26-21 after the 1st quarter. Not that Portland are world-beaters on defense, in fact far from it, but when Robin Lopez picked up his second foul with 4:52 to go in the first, Tyreke's eyes grew as big as saucers.
Sure enough, Evans put up a quick 12 points before Lopez got back into the game with 7:21 remaining in the 2nd quarter. And for good measure, the rest of the Pelicans core had plenty of first half success too. Anthony Davis had 13 points and 7 rebounds, including a couple of nice finishes and one awesome block on a LaMarcus Aldridge fadeaway. Ryan Anderson had 9 points, Jrue Holiday, 12 points and 7 assists and Al-Farouq Aminu grabbed 7 rebounds.
Leading 56-49, Portland came out stronger in the second half. Notably, their perimeter shooters started to find their range as the Blazers hit 3 of their first 5 from deep in 3rd quarter. However, they couldn't maintain it and pretty soon the Pelicans were back at slicing and dicing Portland's very porous defense.
Yet, no way on earth were the Pelicans out of the woods. Substitutions were moments away and Monty Williams was probably going to call the numbers of Greg Stiemsma and Brian Roberts. And on cue, Roberts entered with 3:22 in the 3rd, Stiemsma with 1:54. Although the Pels still maintained a lead after 3, 89-82, one could sense the cliff was approaching, yet again.
With 11:25 in the 4th, Roberts was called for traveling. Next possession, he starts to drive to the hoop then swings the ball to the other side to...nobody. Back-to-back mind-numbing turnovers. YUCK.
Essentially, with 9:15 left, it was a brand new game at 89-89.
This time, though, Jrue Holiday, the AllStar, was ready. He quickly drilled a 3 and then proceeded to add 12 more points until the final buzzer. Holiday v. Lillard, it was fun. However, there were numerous other actors, on both sides of the ball, contributing in this wonderful improvisation. And the best was naturally saved for last.
With 54.5 seconds remaining, and a one-point lead, Jrue Holiday appeared to make a three pointer. Not surprisingly, the referees wanted a second look. Okay, sure, under 2 minutes to go, we'll allow for your due diligence. From the best of angles, Holiday's foot may or may not have been on the line. Inconclusive and the call stands right?
Nope. One possession game.
After Aldridge and Holiday both missed their ensuing jumpshots, Damian Lillard calmly made ANOTHER bomb against us in the waning moments of a close ballgame (seriously, what the hell did we ever do to him?) Not to be outdone, Evans, who hadn't scored since the 3rd quarter, took the ball the length of the floor and swished a deadzone fadeaway jumper. Thankfully, Aldridge's final attempt with 1.2 seconds missed badly.
And that's how the Blazers have lost 2 straight for the first time this season. More importantly, that's what it took for New Orleans to notch their first legitimate win on the year. Yep, 29 games in. But all kidding aside, this was an important step. Especially with another ominous road trip around the corner.
- For the first time since before his injury, Anthony Davis got off to an aggressive start to the game. When it was all said and done, he had 27 points (13-19 FG), 12 rebounds and 5 big-time blocks. At least a couple of those blocks were on LaMarcus Aldridge fadeaway jumpers (credit to him, it didn't even deter the rest of his night - 28 points on 13-25).
- Did you know AD leads the league in FG% (65.6) in the 4th quarters? Yeah, neither did I. Thanks Fox Sports New Orleans.
- Jrue Holiday = Studalicious Baller. He was on fire so much that the refs felt it was necessary to take away a point from his glowing stat line: 31 points, 13 assists, 7 rebounds, a steal/block/3 and only 2 turnovers. Now that's how you come back after your worst game in your new uniform.
- Ryan Anderson, did he get injured? No, but it sure seemed like it as he hoisted only 4 shots, picking up 4 points in the entire second half.
- Tyreke Evans started the game off with a BANG by hitting 6 of his first 7 field goals. In all, he tallied 20 points (9-15 FG), 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks and 1 gigantic game-winner. Our team would be nowhere near as good without him.
- Brian Roberts and Greg Stiemsma do not deserve playing time. Not now, not ever. I'm done with both of them.
- Some key 1st half statistics: NOP with 40 points in the paint vs. POR's 18 (68-32 for the game). 16-0 fast break points edge for the Pels (20-10 for the game). POR 38.3 FG% (44.3% for the game).