In the second of a two-game series between the Trail Blazers and Pelicans it was yet another physical test.
This time though, Portland picked up the defensive pressure earlier than the final six minutes. In fact, it was that side of the ball that won them the game, 101-93.
In the final minute, Damian Lillard and Enes Kanter each knocked down a pair of free throws to put the Pelicans away.
Kanter credited the Blazers’ defensive performance to communication, trusting each other, and doing their homework by watching Tuesday’s game film.
Lillard finished with 36 points in the win, but it was Kanter who had a big bounce back performance.
The Trail Blazers center finished with 16 points and 13 rebounds, six of which came on the offensive glass.
It was a big turnaround in comparison to Tuesday's game against Steven Adams and the Pelicans. In the first matchup of the week, Kanter was not out on the floor during crunch time after his sluggish performance of 10 points and five rebounds and a very uncharacteristic night with zero offensive rebounds.
The big fella was determined to not let the Pelicans dominate him and the Blazers on the boards again.
Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts and his All-Star point guard Damian Lillard believe that Thursday’s performance was their "best defensive game of the season."
But for Coach Stotts, he was not only pleased with his team’s overall defensive effort, but that Kanter was able to bounce back as well.
Playing against Steven Adams and Zion Williamson is a physical challenge is something Kanter is always up for.
And so were the rest of the Blazers.
“New Orleans, obviously one of the most physical teams out there," Kanter explained. "Probably one of the most physical, especially the big men they have – Zion, Steven Adams, and [Jaxson] Hayes, and, obviously, Brandon Ingram too. They’re a very physical team.”
“They have the makeup of a physical team," Lillard added. "Even [Eric] Bledsoe and Lonzo Ball, they play a physical style, especially defensively. On offense, they lower their shoulder, they attack the rim, they search for contact, and they just play a physical style… It’s tough to play with…
"But you just got to match it.”
And that they did as the Blazers improved to 23-16 on the season.