Anthony Davis

Trail Blazers began season with six centers -- and now it's down to one

Trail Blazers began season with six centers -- and now it's down to one

And then there was one. Just one -- for right now, at least.

One Trail Blazer center left. And the team started training camp with five of them. Six, actually, if you want to count G-League rookie Moses Brown.

Saturday night, just 2:37 into what turned into a 128-120 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, Skal Labissiere suffered an injury to his left knee and departed the game. Ironically, Labissiere was starting at power forward alongside Hassan Whiteside, as Coach Terry Stotts attempted to get more size in the game to counter the Lakers’ starting duo of Anthony Davis and JaVale McGee.

Results of Labissiere’s MRI are “pending,” according to Stotts.

Portland began the season with Zach Collins, who has served as a backup center previously, as the starting power forward but he was lost due to dislocated left shoulder. Veteran Hall of Fame center Pau Gasol began the season on the injured list and later retired. And Jusuf Nurkic, the expected starter when he returns from the broken leg he suffered last season.

Leaving Whiteside. Period. Depending on Labissiere’s status, Brown could be recalled from the G-League to fill a backup role.

But playing basketball without size in the frontcourt is a very difficult task, particularly against teams with plenty of size, such as the Lakers.

Portland stayed in the game until late in the third quarter, when Los Angeles got serious about going to Davis on lob passes or getting the ball deep to Dwight Howard. The Lakers finished with a 60-40 edge in points in the paint and that was the difference in the game.

“I mean, it’s tough any time you lose a teammate to an injury,” said Damian Lillard, who had 31 points and nine assists. “Just because you don’t know how serious it could be or how much time he’ll miss. It’s a guy who’s been in our rotation all season. It hurts even more, especially with us already dealing with so many injuries.

“I don’t care who’s on the floor or what we’re dealing with as far as injuries or what we’re up against – I mean, we’re all professionals. People pay a lot of money to come see us play and we get paid a lot of money to show up and do our jobs and perform. So, I think it’s obvious what we’re up against. We’ve got three of our starters out with tough injuries and we’re playing with guys who it’s their first year getting a lot of minutes… Everybody knows that, but it does us no good to use it as a crutch or make an excuse…”

Anthony Tolliver, a forward who got backup minutes at center, responded with his best shooting night of the season, hitting four of his five three-point shots. And Anfernee Simons had 14 points and six rebounds off the bench. Whiteside had 19 points, 16 rebounds and four blocks.

But in the end, everything came down to the little things:

Portland is now too little. There aren’t enough big men. Which makes interior defense difficult. And at this point of the season, very little can be done about it.

Terry Stotts ejected for first time in 880 games and 'it was very necessary'

Terry Stotts ejected for first time in 880 games and 'it was very necessary'

The Los Angeles Lakers Friday night showed everything you need to have to be a championship team.

With LeBron James and Anthony Davis they have two superstars, Hall of Fame-caliber players who are tough at both ends of the floor. They’ve surrounded those players with shooters and veterans who know how to play.

Almost as important as that, they’ve got an experienced coaching staff that appears to have its team buying into defense and moving the ball. Frank Vogel and his assistants are doing an outstanding job with this team that has won 20 of its first 23 games.

And in the Lakers’ 136-113 win over the Trail Blazers in Moda Center, the Lakers got all the help they needed from a very weak officiating crew -- John Goble, Tre Maddox and Leon Wood -- that had Terry Stotts going apoplectic and his players so frustrated they didn’t know what to do.

Stotts was ejected by Tre Maddox with a little more than a minute left in the third quarter after a foul call on Kent Bazemore, who had flown past Anthony Davis without touching him. This after Skal Labissiere was in the locker room getting four stitches in his lip from an elbow by Kyle Kuzma that was not called a foul.

My only question about Stotts getting run was, “What took you so long?”

It had been a poorly officiated game all night and it was the very first time Stotts, in his 880th game as an NBA head coach, has been booted from a game.

“It was very necessary,” Damian Lillard said, then said again. “It was very necessary.”

Bazemore said, “I had four fouls. I didn’t touch him. I was just trying to get out of the way.”

Bazemore got in James’ face and exchanged some words with him a couple of times, but wouldn’t share the content.  “I didn’t get here by backing down from anyone," he said. "That’s not who I am. I’m a fiery player. Very passionate. This is what I like to show.”

It was a contentious game that left Portland players feeling they didn’t get a fair shake. CJ McCollum reacted with dismay when he thought he was fouled in the third quarter. And he got a technical foul for it.

“I was clearly fouled,” McCollum said. “He hit me in the head. They didn’t call it. So I let him know that he missed the call. He didn’t appreciate it.

“They were very inconsistent all night.”

He was asked about Stotts’ getting ejected.

“Tells you the kind of night it was -- he doesn’t freak out for no reason,” McCollum said. “He just doesn’t do that. Kent runs by a guy and doesn’t touch him. Wouldn’t you be mad?”

Is it difficult to play a team with big-name players who seem to get calls?

“That’s what it looked like tonight,” he said. “It is what it is. It’s not even about the calls they get. It’s, can we get the same calls?”

The Lakers didn’t need any help. They buried Portland early with dunks off lobs and then put the hammer down with their three-point shooting, hitting 17 of 36 from long range.

Lillard had 29 for Portland, which now has the problem of replacing starting small forward Rodney Hood, who suffered a torn left Achilles tendon.

 

Instant Analysis: Blazers lose Hood to injury, Stotts to a double-tech, & the game to Lakers

Instant Analysis: Blazers lose Hood to injury, Stotts to a double-tech, & the game to Lakers

Friday night, the Blazers lost their starting small forward Rodney Hood to a season-ending injury.

Before Hood’s injury late in the first quarter, the Blazers and Lakers were exchanging buckets. 

While the Blazers made in-game adjustments without Hood, the Lakers started to run away with the game. LA’s biggest lead on the night was 21.

The Blazers starters continued to battle in the final period even after their head coach got ejected. 

FINAL BOX SCORE: LAKERS 136, TRAIL BLAZERS 113

Here are three quick takeaways from Friday’s loss:

1.  Hood leaves game early

Blazers starting small forward Rodney Hood left Friday night's game with torn left Achilles tendon.

The injury came at the 3:27 mark of the first quarter when Hood grabbed a defensive rebound. 

Hood planted his left foot and immediately fell to the floor. It was a non-contact injury.

Trainers rushed to Hood where he was surrounded by his teammates. He had to be helped off the floor by the team trainers. At the end of the first half, the Blazers announced that an MRI confirmed Hood had suffered a torn left Achilles tendon.

Kent Bazemore assumed the starting three spot for the night.  

2.  So many Laker dunks

Los Angeles showed off its size and length early and often against the Blazers. It was pick your poison under the basket on Friday night. LeBron James, JaVale McGee, Anthony Davis – all three Laker bigs were involved in a dunk-fest in the first quarter. Los Angeles took advantage of a smaller Blazers lineup, especially once Hood left the game.  

3.  Coach Stotts gets tossed

It has been a heated night between fans, between players, and between Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts and the officials.

Coach Stotts was seen chirping at the referees and giving several looks of disgust through the first three quarters game.

After a personal foul was called on Kent Bazemore when Bazemore went up to contest Anthony Davis’ lay-in with 1:05 remaining in the third quarter that was the final straw.

Stotts was hit with two technical fouls and was ejected from the game. This is the first time in his Trail Blazers coaching career that he has been tossed from a game.

Up Next: The Trail Blazers host the Oklahoma City Thunder. The game will tip-off on Sunday 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!

Trail Blazers could make a move, but don't expect Anthony Davis

Trail Blazers could make a move, but don't expect Anthony Davis

Now that the season is over and it looks as if the Golden State Warriors are going to have to make a miracle move not to look like a mediocre team next season, the talk turns to the Western Conference and the most basic of questions:

Who’s next?

As the runner-up to Golden State in the playoffs this last season, the Trail Blazers would certainly be a logical choice. And that means there’s pressure on Portland to make the Big Move to push it over the top – something that might duplicate what the Raptors did when they acquired Kawhi Leonard.

And the trade that is being tossed around the most, of course, is for New Orleans’ Anthony Davis. And I would advise those wishing for the Trail Blazers to pull that one off to slow down and be a little more realistic.

The Blazers would probably be willing to go all-in on Davis but they just don’t have the chips to tempt the Pelicans. Or, more correctly, other teams have more to offer.

And let me say first, if you think the Trail Blazer brass hasn’t already thought of this and hasn’t already engaged in some discussions with New Orleans, you’re probably off base. I would assume by now a whole lot of teams have not only knocked on David Griffin’s door, but have been rebuffed.

There’s a reason the Lakers continue to be the most-talked-about destination for Davis. No, not LeBron -- although that's certainly a factor in Davis wanting to be there. They have the most to offer. Los Angeles could send the Pels two previous No. 2 picks in the draft along with the current No. 4 pick – as well as Kyle Kuzma. The Blazers would be offering high-salaried players who could provide cap room in one more year but I would also assume a team welcoming Zion Williamson doesn't want to think about cap space NEXT year.

It wants talent now.

So if Davis doesn’t land in Portland it doesn’t mean the team didn’t give it a shot. Those guys in the front office know exactly what’s out there for them in the West and are more excited about that prospect than you are.

And I do think the Trail Blazers will pull something off – and it will probably prove to be better than you thought it was going to be. That’s the way a lot of Neil Olshey’s moves have turned out over the last several seasons.

Who could they get? I have no idea. But I certainly didn’t know Jusuf Nurkic and a pick could be had for Mason Plumlee – and I had no idea Nurk would prove to be the player he’s become. I also didn’t expect Rodney Hood and Enes Kantor to show up here for the stretch run last season.

Olshey’s plan all along has been to prepare this franchise for the time when the Warriors drop off. The Warriors didn’t just drop off, though, they fell down in a heap due to injuries.

But the Blazers are closer to a Western Conference title now than they’ve been in a long time. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum are in their prime and Jusuf Nurkic – when they get him healthy – is a force at both ends of the court.

Portland could still use more three-point shooting and a rim protector until Nurkic heals and to back him up after that.

You can play with one of those online digital trade machines all you want, but I’m not sure you really know which players to plug into it.

So my best advice would be to be patient and see what happens.

Trail Blazers active in NBA marketplace, but ...

Trail Blazers active in NBA marketplace, but ...

As the trade deadline nears, NBA sources indicate Portland Trail Blazes’ president of basketball operations Neil Olshey has been active. The team is being talked about as one that’s busy in the marketplace, looking to make something happen.

But obviously, that doesn’t mean anything is going to happen prior to the deadline.

Olshey keeps the doors closed, the windows covered and the phone calls private. The Portland front office is among the most buttoned down in the league. Any “rumors” of deals involving the Trail Blazers most likely didn’t come from the team – and probably aren’t true. In fact, recent speculation concerning trades for Marc Gasol and Jeremy Lin were totally absurd.

But a few conclusions can be drawn from the team’s history and current situation as the deadline nears:

  • If you’re looking for a major deal from this team, you’d be wise to look for it next season, when the team will have approximately $37 million in expiring contracts to offer.
  • Sources say the Trail Blazers have shown a willingness to include a first-round draft choice, along with a player, in a deal, but you would assume it would be only for a player they perceive to be good enough to help make that pick more unattractive, due to his play down the stretch. And remember, there are only 30 regular-season games remaining,
  • I would hope there is a reluctance to give up a first-round pick for a player with an expiring contract. Taking a player with other options into signing a new deal after just 30 games here would not be easy.
  • Just because Paul George chose to stay in Oklahoma City after a one-year sampling with the Thunder, doesn’t mean that’s a trend in the league. Giving up a big piece of the future for such a player is a major gamble.
  • Al-Farouq Aminu is an attractive expiring-contract trade piece but is highly valued by the organization. I would not expect him to be dealt unless it’s a very big trade.
  • There are still a lot of teams in the hunt for playoff spots that may not be willing at this point to make deals involving their unattractive contracts. It’s too soon for some of them to start dismantling their roster.
  • Yes, the Blazers are slightly above the luxury-tax threshold but they have never seemed to be worried about it. Don’t expect a trade totally predicated on getting them under the line.
  • Anthony Davis? Well, if he doesn’t want to be in New Orleans – a solid team that swept the Trail Blazers in the playoffs last season and where he’s eligible for a super-max deal -- why would he want to be in Portland? And it would take a lot of assets to get him for what’s left of this season and next.
  • Just because you don’t hear that the team is working on something, it doesn’t mean there isn’t something going on. As I said, this is a closed-up operation.
  • Just because you don’t know the team’s plan, doesn’t mean there isn’t one.

Why Anthony Davis probably won’t sign extension anywhere

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Why Anthony Davis probably won’t sign extension anywhere

By Dan Feldman, NBC Sports 

On Monday, Jan. 28, the NBA world was woken up by yet another "Woj bomb": Anthony Davis had requested to be traded out of New Orleans. In his sixth year, the 25-year-old Davis has been nothing less than a nightmare-matchup for the other 29 teams in the league from the moment he steps into any NBA arena.

Davis is averaging 29.3 points per game to go along with 13.3 rebounds per game this season.

But his patience with the Pelicans franchise has apparently run its course. He is rumored to have the Los Angeles Lakers as his first choice, but one could argue that most teams are looking at cap space and contracts in order to acquire the five-time All-Star.  

Let’s break down Davis’ contract and the decisions he has on the table.

Davis' current contract ends in 2020 and any team trading for him is taking the risk of him just being a short-term rental. No matter who Davis plans to sign with, it appears he has made the decision to leave millions on the table. If he were to re-sign with New Orleans, his super max deal would be a projected five-year, $240 million deal. However, if he is traded and re-signs with that team the max deal is a projected five-year, $205 million deal. The deal would be worth even less if he were to re-sign with a different team in free agency. Leaving that much money on the table shows Davis is in win now mode. 

According to NBC Sports’ Dan Feldman:

“Within six months of getting traded, the largest extension Davis could sign is just one year, $28,447,669. If he gets dealt then waits for that six-month period to expire, he could sign an extension worth up to $145,652,065 over four years. But because he’d have to wait, the team trading for him wouldn’t immediately get the security of locking him up longer-term. And Davis would already be out of New Orleans, so an extension would no longer be a tool to facilitate his exit. Which mostly defeats the point of an extension.

“Here’s how much Davis could earn on a super-max extension (blue), extend-and-trade (gold), extension six months after a trade (red), re-signing in 2020 free agency (purple) and leaving his team in 2020 free agency (green). The non-super-max extension salaries are calculated. The other salaries are based on the projected 2020-21 salary cap.”

"Whether or not he lands on a team he wants to re-sign with, it’s still financially prudent to reject an extension in favor of signing a fresh contract in free agency," says Feldman.

How badly does Davis want to be apart of a championship-contending team? Enough to sacrifice millions of dollars for? The Brow has much to think about...

Read the full story from NBC Sports here.

Everything you need to know from pregame as Trail Blazers prep for New Orleans Pelicans

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Everything you need to know from pregame as Trail Blazers prep for New Orleans Pelicans

This is the second of three meetings between Portland and New Orleans this season.

 

Before tonight’s Western Conference showdown Blazers head coach Terry Stotts and Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry addressed the media.

 

Blazers Injury Update: Maurice Harkless (left knee) and Caleb Swanigan (right knee) were listed as questionable for tonight’s game vs. New Orleans. Coach Stotts said Harkless was “to be determined” while Swanigan will be inactive tonight.

 

***About a half hour before tip-off, the Blazers announced Harkless is available for tonight’s game.  

 

Coach Stotts also discussed the challenges that a healthy Anthony Davis brings to the Blazers’ defense.

 

“They’re a really good offensive team… They’re a top three offense. [Davis] is having a great year, single-handedly, but the team around him his really playing well. He’s a challenge to guard individually and as a team,” Stotts said.

 

In his last nine games, Davis is averaging 33.3 points per game to go along with 15.3 rebounds, 2.2 blocks and 2.0 steals per game.

 

Hear from Coach Stotts right here:

 

Pelicans Injury Update: Earlier this month, Nikola Mirotic returned from a month-long absence due to an ankle injury. Coach Gentry says Mirotic will not play 38 minutes tonight, but he won’t be restricted to 25 minutes either.

 

Coach Gentry praised the Blazers backcourt duo of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, talking about how both Lillard and McCollum are great at creating their own shots in such a variety of ways and in so many different situations. 

 

Hear from Coach Gentry right here:

Game 3 disrespect has become snapshot of Blazers-Pelicans series

Game 3 disrespect has become snapshot of Blazers-Pelicans series

NEW ORLEANS –If there is a snapshot that captures this first round series, it was taken in the third quarter of Game 3, and later framed for all to see around the NBA.

Anthony Davis soaring in, untouched, and grabbing a rebound with his left hand and flushing it for a dunk. Trail Blazers’ center Jusuf Nurkic was literally floored, knocked to his hands and out of the way by Davis’ athletic and physical play.

In the aftermath of the play – which gave New Orleans a 79-60 lead – Pelicans’ guard Jrue Holiday stood at Nurkic’s feet and pointed in wide-eyed dismay at him. For a long time. Too long. 

It was everything this series had become: a laugher, an embarrassment for the Trail Blazers. And it underscored why it had become so lopsided: the Pelicans beating Portland to another ball, a Pelicans’ star shining while the Blazers remained frustrated. And overall, another example of New Orleans being more aggressive, more physical and more … everything.

“Outplayed us in every way,’’ Lillard would say after the Game 3 blowout. “Every way, man.’’

But what about that show of disrespect by Holiday? The pointing. The posing. The mockery of it all?

Fittingly, the Blazers were apparently oblivious to Holiday’s actions, even though they had a front row seat for it, and even though it was splashed across the internet Thursday night.

 “Huh?’’ Nurkic said when asked about it Friday. “I didn’t see it.’’

Damian Lillard?

“Did he? I didn’t see it,’’ Lillard said. “When things going well for you, you do stuff like that. That’s I guess kind of something you do when you are feeling really confident, you are feeling yourself a little bit. It’s not like we’ve done anything about it .’’

CJ McCollum was shown a clip of the play. He shrugged his shoulders and chose not to comment. 

And if the Blazers’ coach took offense to it, or thought anything of it, he didn’t say Friday as Terry Stotts was strangely made unavailable to the media even though he was 10 feet away from the camera and microphones, talking to Neil Olshey, the team’s president of basketball operations. 

According to a team spokesman, there wasn’t enough time for Stotts to talk, because the team had to practice, which ignored the fact that the team was more than 15 minutes late in arriving.

In all, Game 3 magnified what in this series has been a strange display by a team that prides itself on culture, hard work and accountability.

At least Lillard on Friday showed some spunk and fight as Saturday’s Game 4 neared. When asked about making adjustments, he said he wanted to see the Blazers adjust their physicality.

“They were up into us a lot. A lot more aggressive than we were and we didn’t dish it back out,’’ Lillard said. “I think in the playoffs and a situation like this, when a team is coming for you like that, you have to maybe go out of your way to do it back. Even if that means some foul trouble or some altercations happen out there or whatever, but when a team comes from you like the way they did after last game, maybe we just need to make it a point of emphasis to go back and get back at them.’’

The Blazers have tried talking about adjustments to counter the Pelicans’ traps and gameplan against the backcourt, but their plans are both not working and not being executed fully. 

“It’s easy to draw up and say this is what we want to do after you watch film,’’ Lillard said. “Then when you get out there and they are playing so disruptive … they’ve got their minds set on what they are going to do – it’s hard to execute it.’’

Defensively, the Blazers are in the spin cycle. Three different Pelicans have scored 30 or more points in the first three games – Anthony Davis (35 in Game 1), Holiday (33 in Game 2) and Nikola Mirotic (30 in Game 3) – all while Rajon Rondo has played the defense like a yo-yo.

So maybe there was nothing for Stotts to say, and no change in the game plan needed. 

“Coaches can only do so much,’’ McCollum said. “They are not guarding Mirotic, they are not guarding Jrue holiday, or Rondo, or any of these guys. So it’s on us. We just need to play better.’’

If they don’t, Game 4 will bring a sweep and more finger pointing in their faces.

Down and almost out, there isn't much the Trail Blazers can do to turn things around

Down and almost out, there isn't much the Trail Blazers can do to turn things around

Down and almost out, the Trail Blazers seem just as bewildered as you and me about the way their first-round series with New Orleans has turned out.

Just about everything that could go wrong has gone wrong. And there are no easy answers. Portland, a team so reluctant to use double-teaming as a defensive tactic, is just about completely befuddled by the Pelicans' double teams. A roster that rattled off a long winning streak during the second half of the regular season, is now incapable of getting the job done. The coach, once being talked about as a longshot candidate for Coach of the Year, is seemingly  not making necessary adjustments. The team's best player, being talked about as a possible first-team all-NBA selection, has been virtually shut down for three games.

What in the heck is going on here?

Well, I will address the problems as best I can and as directly as I can. They are many and sometimes contradictory:

  • If players are being double-teamed to the point Lillard is, other players obviously have to emerge to hit open shots. That's simple math -- two people guarding one person means another person should be open. But to take advantage of that, the ball must move quickly to the open man and the open man must be able to make an open shot.
  • Very often, the Trail Blazers invite the double teams with their high pick-and-roll. It makes it easy to simply blitz the screen and get the ball out of Lillard's or CJ McCollum's hands. Often, those players themselves call for that double team by calling for the high pick. New Orleans is obviously one of the best pick-and-roll defensive teams in the league, so... why not run something else? Why keep going back to something that isn't working?
  • The safety valve against double-teams in Portland's attack is almost always the big man coming to the foul line for a pass. He can then turn and face the basket, knowing he's going to be facing a three-on-two situation. The problem for the Blazers has been that it's been Nurkic in that position and he isn't a threat to make a shot from where he receives the ball. Consequently, his defender -- usually Anthony Davis -- is still free to roam the basket area. Perhaps someone else could play that spot who can make an open 20-foot shot?
  • And speaking of making open shots, the Trail Blazers have needed front-court shooting for two or three seasons now. You can tell me how well Al-Farouq Aminu is shooting all you want, but he isn't reliable or consistent and opponents still leave him open because they don't think he can convert. He's not a floor stretcher. The Blazers need long-distance shooting that will help open the court for Lillard and McCollum. This is not a new problem.
  • On the defensive end, the Trail Blazers continue to attempt to use Aminu to defend bigger players and it hasn't gone well. Against the Pelicans, it creates a terrible matchup for Jusuf Nurkic, who then must chase Nikola Mirotic around on the perimeter. While Aminu may do a marginally better job on Davis than Nurkic, the latter cannot come close to defending Mirotic, so it forces Nurkic to the bench in favor of a better defender. This is a defensive tactic by Portland that forces its third-best player, Nurkic, to the bench. And oh well, it may not matter because the Blazers aren't making good use of him on offense, anyway. If they don't get him out of that high pick-and-roll into one closer to the basket, he's not nearly as effective. He needs to catch close enough to the rim that he doesn't need to put the ball on the floor.
  • I believe there's also been a Portland effort problem in this series. For whatever reason, the Trail Blazers have been outhustled. This happened at times during the regular season but I don't understand it. Especially in the postseason.
  • The ball has to consistently move around the floor more often. When the Blazers are playing well, they move the ball and move bodies. Too often this season, things generate into the guards going one-on-one and in the playoffs, that's a hard way to win. When I talk to people around the NBA about this team, that's a criticism I hear often -- the guards are too dominant. But considering the shot-making ability of the forwards, can you blame them?
  • This thing has gone way off the tracks in the playoffs and I've outlined several things that are responsible. But the other thing that's gone unmentioned is that the Pels just might be this much better than the Trail Blazers.
  • What can be done at this point to change things for the better? The easy answer is nothing. But I'd at least like to see more effort in Game 4.

Trail Blazers don't show up in New Orleans in blowout loss

Trail Blazers don't show up in New Orleans in blowout loss

NEW ORLEANS – It was the fourth quarter, and the body language of Damian Lillard told the story for the Trail Blazers on Tuesday: Arms crossed, legs outstretched, eyes staring off in space.

Blowout losses, like the 100-77 beatdown New Orleans applied on the Blazers on Tuesday, can do that even to the best of leaders.

“Disappointed,’’ Lillard said thinking back to that moment. “I remember when I put my legs out, I thought ‘Maybe I should sit up so people don’t look at it’ but it was just how I felt at the moment … that we let it get away.’’

The Blazers’ late-season playoff push was derailed  with a no-show performance in New Orleans that was so poor that coach Terry Stotts sat his key players for the final 9:39 of the fourth quarter in order to rest them for Wednesday’s game at San Antonio.

The Blazers entered the game having won five of six and feeling like they were playing their best basketball of the season. But they turned in one of their worst performances of the season as only Lillard (29 points) and Shabazz Napier (10 points) finished in double figures.

The Blazers shot a season-low 30.3 percent for the game and scored a season-low 77 points. They also committed 16 turnovers.

The loss drops Portland (29-37) to 2.5 games behind Denver for the eighth and final playoff spot with 16 games remaining. New Orleans (27-40) moved to within five games of Denver.

With owner Paul Allen in attendance, the Blazers played one of their worst games of the season.

Allen Crabbe went 1-for-8, including 1-for-6 from three-point range. Jusuf Nurkic went 1-for-8 with four turnovers. Al-Farouq Aminu didn’t score. Maurice Harkless didn’t grab a rebound. And CJ McCollum went just 4-of-12 and didn’t make any of his three three-point attempts.

“We just didn’t make shots tonight, that’s pretty much it,” Crabbe said. “It just wasn’t our night.’’

Portland made one run in the second half, cutting a 20-point lead to 60-49 after Lillard scored 11 in a row, but after a timeout, New Orleans scored the next eight to essentially put the game away.

New Orleans took a 50-36 halftime lead, even though Pelicans’ star Anthony Davis left with about five minutes left in the second quarter to have his left ankle examined. His absence didn’t matter as Portland struggled with its shot (33 percent in first half) and with controlling the ball (nine turnovers). The 36 points was the second fewest first half points this season.

Davis came back to start the second half and finished with 15 points and 15 rebounds in 29 minutes on 5-of-15 shooting. DeMarcus Cousins finished with 22 points and nine rebounds, but he shot only 9-of-22 from the field and 4-of-10 from the free throw line.

New Orleans improved to 4-6 since Cousins was acquired in a trade with Sacramento.

The defining stretch of the first half came when Portland went scoreless from 6:20 in the second quarter until 1:55 when Lillard made a driving layin. That ended a 12-0 Pelicans run that extended a 31-28 lead to 43-28.

The Blazers shot 20 percent in the first quarter (4-of-20) and had both of their starting forwards – Maurice Harkless and Noah Vonleh – forced to the bench with two fouls. 

Up next: Blazers at San Antonio, 7 p.m. Wednesday (KGW/ESPN)

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