New Orleans welcomed Portland to the Smoothie King Center and lost 114-88 in a game that was never close. Did I mention that Portland was coming off of a triple overtime game with San Antonio last night? Because they did, even though they didn’t play like it. Where should we begin with this stink bomb of a game?
Okay, yeah, the Blazers are a really good team, and they certainly showed why they’re currently sitting third in the West. And, once again, they continued to defy traditional basketball logic by having a higher field goal percentage (53. 3 percent) and scoring more points (114) coming off a back-to-back as compared to their season average (45.2 percent and 103.3 points). Turns out I was wrong, the Portland Trailblazers are not mere cyborgs; they’re a roster full of T-1000 Terminators. But come on, I was hoping the Termi-blazers would have shown at least a little bit of rust after that triple overtime marathon with San Antonio last night.
Instead, it was the Pelicans who looked like they had just played a game into the early hours of Saturday morning. The Pelican starters looked either disinterested or incapable of stopping Portland defensively, and offensively they could not muster anything. The starting five combined to shoot a preposterously awful 25.5 percent. LaMarcus Aldridge had more field goals (12) than the entire Pelican starting lineup (11).
New Orleans just could not make baskets. It’s really as simple as that. Tyreke Evans was 2-11 but six of those misses were seven feet or closer to the basket. Same thing with Jrue Holiday, 3-12 with five misses in the paint, and Anthony Davis, 3-14 and had five misses in the paint. If half of that trio’s shots go in that’s 32 more points for the Pelicans and this game’s totally different. Instead the Pelicans had one of those bad nights where they had plenty of good looks, but the ball just wouldn’t fall.
What should be concerning for New Orleans is that, once again, the defensive play was just awful. I used the word disinterested a few paragraphs back and there were a few Portland possessions where that word describes the Pelicans effort perfectly. One that comes to mind was a Nicolas Batum dunk where, somehow, a lane opened up that was large enough for Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Batum also jumped on a pass that Holiday was sending Ryan Anderson’s way and everyone for New Orleans stood there and let him convert the steal into an easy layup.
We had a roundtable discussion where we talked about fixing the Pelican defense a few days ago, but now I don’t know if any discernible change is coming or even possible. Get ready for a season long headache of great New Orleans offense and vomit inducing defense. Good thing the Saints have given us nine years of practice.
Credit Where Credit Is Due
Big ups to the bench for at least having a pulse out there tonight. While the starters may as well have been in a coma, the reserves kept competing.
- Austin Rivers scored an efficient 21 points. Rivers shot 5-9 from the floor and knocked down 11 of his 12 free throw attempts. He also had two rebounds, three assists, a steal and turned the ball over exactly zero times.
- Ryan Anderson struggled from three (1-5), but was 5-6 inside the arc. His 16 points were the second most for New Orleans.
- Alexis Ajinca recorded a double-double! Granted it came when the game was already decided, but it’s not like anyone’s putting an asterisk next to it. Way to earn that 10 and 13.
- Russ Smith scored the first five points of his NBA career tonight. The shame of it was that after Smith drained the three that officially put him on the scoring list, the game didn’t stop and commemorate the event a la the way play stopped when Kobe Bryant passed Michael Jordan on the scoring list. I mean come on, he made it at the 9:04 mark in the fourth quarter and the Blazers were up 94-70; what would it hurt? Plus, Portland took a timeout after the three so we very well could’ve celebrated the moment. Good on ya, kid. I’ll always remember where I was when Russ Smith scored his first ever points in the NBA.
- The Termi-blazers really are a good team. LaMarcus Aldridge had 27 and 12 in 29 minutes tonight. If the game was even remotely close in the second half he could’ve had a 40-20 game. Batum, Damian Lillard, Thomas Robinson and Chris Kaman also scored double digit points. Good luck trying to stop these cats from scoring.
Since it was Holiday Night at the Smoothie King Center, I have a ton of Christmas related analogies to describe the game. If nothing else, the loss will seem more festive.
- Portland was Cousin Eddy and New Orleans was Frank Shirley tied up and gagged.
- Portland was the gangster from that Home Alone movie Kevin watched and New Orleans was the filthy animal he lit up with a tommy gun.
- Portland was the cord to Clark’s Christmas tree and New Orleans was Aunt Bethany’s cat chewing on it. Spoiler alert: the cat blew up.
- The Blazers tonight were Scut Farcus and the Pelicans were poor Ralph and his friends. Before Ralph got his payback of course.
Look getting blown out at home sucks no matter if it’s at the hands of a good team or a bad team. But it’s only one game so let’s be rational here; the Pelicans have 56 more chances to make up for it.
It starts tomorrow night in Oklahoma City.