When Brandon Ingram opened the scoring with a 3-pointer in Josh Hart’s face, many probably thought that tonight was going to be different.
Slow starts have plagued the Pelicans of late. They haven’t enjoyed a decent lead after 12 minutes since the loss to the Lakers.
However, that bucket proved to be a mirage. After building a 10-4 lead, the Trail Blazers went on a 20-8 run.
The hits just kept on coming.
The Pelicans went on to give up seven offensive rebounds for nine second chance points in the first quarter, and in every ensuing quarter, they did something else to stab themselves in the foot.
Five minutes into the second quarter, the Pelicans opened up a 10-point lead. But they proceeded to hit an offensive dry spell to give the Trail Blazers a chance to find some much-needed confidence.
The Pelicans committed nine turnovers in the third. That’s simply unforgivable.
And in the fourth, we witnessed an additional lack of focus. In a small but important window, Zion Williamson missed a couple of easy lay-ins and Devonte’ Graham had a loose ball just bounce off his leg that wound up a Portland 3-pointer.
A seven-point swing translated quickly into a nine-point deficit, from which the Pelicans never recovered.
In a game that Damian Lillard and Jusuf Nurkic didn’t play, the Pelicans fell 106-95 to the Trail Blazers.
That’s a lousy way to start a six-game home stand, throwing a golden opportunity against a short-handed team thanks to a slew of mistakes that can be controlled.
Zion Williamson led all scorers with 29 points. He made nine of 14 from the field and 10 of 15 from the free throw line.
Brandon Ingram was hot early, scoring 10 points in the opening frame but proceeded to add just four more to his total. He only had 12 shot attempts for the game, proving a non-factor over the final three frames, before fouling out late.
CJ McCollum had a decent line of 13 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, but digging deeper, it was marred by inefficiency. He struggled yet again, sinking just six of 17 field goals, while also committing five turnovers.
Off the bench, Trey Murphy scored 16 points, hit three 3s and had three blocks. He honestly appeared to post the strongest overall game, proving effective on both sides of the ball.
Jerami Grant picked apart New Orleans all night for 27 points. Anfernee Simons chipped in 23 points and splashed home five treys.
The Pelicans committed 17 turnovers. And the team with the worst turnover percentage in the league entering tonight, the Trail Blazers, had just eight.
New Orleans also managed to score only 38 points after halftime, proving unable to solve Portland’s zone defense.
It was a porous effort, especially from a decision-making standpoint. And for those making the argument this was the second night of a back-to-back, the Trail Blazers played in Charlotte last night.
I think it’s noticeable to everyone, the Pelicans haven’t been playing consistent basketball for awhile now. Something needs to get them on the right track, but it’s unclear as to how to accomplish that.