With no Damian Lillard (groin strain) Friday night, Gary Trent Jr. got the starting nod as CJ McCollum shifted to point guard with Portland hosting the New Orleans Pelicans.
And the Pelicans were red hot against the Blazers both inside and out.
New Orleans started the game hitting 12 of its first 16 shot attempts (5-of-6 from three).
Behind Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram’s 10 points each, the Pelicans scored 40 first quarter points.
New Orleans didn’t cool down until early in the third quarter. Portland cut the lead to seven midway through the third after the Pelicans had led by as many as 19 points.
Just when it looked like the Blazers could be within striking distance, the Pelicans went on a 12-0 run to close the third quarter. The Pelicans took that momentum into the final period to run away with the win.
Here are three quick takeaways from Friday’s loss:
1. McCollum steps into new role
Following Thursday’s practice, CJ McCollum discussed how he would have to get his teammates involved and be able to manage the game with Lillard sidelined. McCollum was very active in finding his open teammate Friday night. He had seven assists in the first quarter. He also had as many points in the first 12 minutes. McCollum and the rest of the Blazer wings made a conscience effort to get the ball down low to Carmelo Anthony. Melo took advantage of smaller defenders, bodying them up on the block. He found success down low and at the free throw line.
2. Pelicans don’t cash in on free throws
After not blowing the whistle that much to start the game, the Blazers started racking up fouls midway through the first quarter. By halftime, Portland had committed 18 personal fouls. Yet, the Pelicans weren’t able to convert from the free throw line. Their 10-point lead at the break could’ve been much larger.
New Orleans went 16-of-28 from the charity stripe in the first half. Zion Williamson had 19 points at the half, but he went just 5-of-10 from the line.
3. Portland struggled to get stops
The Trail Blazers were able to put up plenty of points on the board. It was on the other end of the ball where the Blazers struggled.
When Portland would make a run, the Pelicans would knock down a corner three or rack up second chance points, or find a way to get a timely bucket.
Up Next: The Trail Blazers continue their three-game homestand Sunday night when Portland hosts the Detroit Pistons. The Blazers and Pistons will tip-off at 6:00pm on NBC Sports Northwest and the MyTeams App.
Be sure to check back throughout the night and tomorrow morning for analysis, articles, and videos from the players!