The Pelicans led most of the night, had a 50-36 halftime lead and watched the Blazers launch brick after brick all night long. Portland finished with a lowly 30.3 shooting percentage on the night — even with a full 12 minutes of garbage time thrown in. Outside of Damian Lillard’s 29-point effort, the rest of the Blazers were noticeably missing in action.
Interestingly, Portland entered tonight’s matchup on a hot streak. They were winner’s in five of their last six while scoring points by the boatload, easily topping 100 in nearly every game in the last two months. The Pelicans defense was sound and with just five turnovers, the Blazers had few easy looks, but maybe PDX spent a long night on Bourbon Street... either way it worked out well for New Orleans!
DeMarcus Cousins finished with a team-high 22 points and added nine rebounds, three steals, two blocks, zero turnovers (!) and two personal fouls in a game that showcased more good than bad for a change. Anthony Davis had 15 points, 15 rebounds, three blocks and two steals. Oh, and I should probably mention AD was on the finishing end of probably the alley-oop of the year for both the Pelicans and league:
That pass from Cousins, along with a behind-the-back number to Dante Cunningham later, was nice to see. He’s a very aware passer. On the flip side, Cousins still had those moments of slowly ambling up the floor, sometimes not making it across the timeline and often drifting towards the 3-point line on offense. Then there were a few awkward drives in isolation situations. Luckily for Pelicans fans, he kept making these difficult layup attempts and never hit a boiling point on the few missed whistles where he clearly got hit. Portland fans must have thrown their hands up and said, ‘it’s just one of those nights.’
Cousins doesn’t exert a ton of effort on defense every play if he has to guard a stretch-5. In the following example below, he got away with it. Big Cuz was supposed to be guarding Meyers Leonard in the corner but wound was in the right place at the right time by catching an ill-conceived pass that led to a fastbreak Cunningham slam.
Portland mistakes ruled the night. In the first half, the Blazers committed nine turnovers (while missing nearly everything), yet the Pels turned it over just once. For the game, New Orleans finished with 22 points off turnovers while Portland scored just three points on five turnovers.
Yeah, it was a good night but not perfect. Davis did have to leave the game for a short time after twisting his ankle in the 2nd quarter — serious enough for x-rays — but he started the second half just fine, so, no worries, right?
Party on, Wayne
Wayne Selden, Jr., welcome to Nola and the NBA! Wayne scored 2 points, the very first in his NBA career in his first-ever start and game. A lot of firsts for Wayne, so congrats!
Let’s chalk this one up to a bad night from the opponent. Tomorrow, the Pelicans play another super hot squad: the Miami Heat and their lockdown defense and 1-eyed point guard Goran Dragic.
First off, ewwwwwwwwwwww, but more importantly, can the Pelicans pull off the upset on the road? Well, we’ll find out in less than 24 hours!