The Portland Trail Blazers (23-16) and New Orleans Pelicans (17-23) are coming off a thrilling game Tuesday that went down to the wire.
And now it’s time for a rematch.
Thursday’s game against New Orleans will be the final contest between the two this season. Portland leads the season series, 2-0.
In their last meeting on Tuesday, Portland charged back from being down 17 with just under six minutes to go in the final period to defeat New Orleans, 125-124.
Behind Damian Lillard’s stellar performance with a season-high 50 points, six rebounds, and 10 assists, the Blazers improved to 12-7 at home.
In the loss, Brandon Ingram led the Pelicans with 30 points, six rebounds, two assists and one steal.
Over the past two games, the Pelicans have recorded a franchise-record 76 assists.
Thursday, Portland will once again be without Jusuf Nurkic (right wrist fracture) and Zach Collins (left ankle stress fracture).
But, Blazers backup center Harry Giles (left calf strain), who hasn’t played since Feb. 14, has been upgraded to probable.
For the Pelicans, JJ Redick (right heel; soreness) is out.
Ahead of Thursday’s game, our Trail Blazers Insider Dwight Jaynes examined Tuesday’s comeback win aided by Carmelo Anthony defending Pelicans' centers:
Carmelo Anthony has obviously been a very productive player through his 18 seasons in the NBA. Hall-of-Fame productive,
At either forward spot.
But at this stage of his basketball life, the 36-year-old veteran is finding success off the bench as a small-ball center.
Well, at least on defense. Who saw that coming? On offense, the league is no longer defined by positions, as teams move to playing all sorts of hybrid big and small lineups, often daring teams to match up with them.
During Portland’s thrilling comeback against New Orleans Tuesday night, when the Trail Blazers erased a 17-point deficit inside of the final six minutes, Anthony found himself defending rugged 6-11, 265-pound Pelicans center Steven Adams.
And that’s where experience comes in.
“Well, it comes down to how savvy you are out there on the court,” Anthony said Wednesday after practice. “Your IQ on the court. Your energy and effort, right?
“Just being smart, knowing the team that you're going up against. Knowing the guys you're going up against. Really paying attention to details.
“Knowing the difference between Stephen Adams, who is a stronger guy, not a fast roller -- but you can't let them get behind the defense. He's a great offensive rebounder. He's strong, as opposed to somebody like Jaxson Hayes, who's a quick roller on the pick and roll and gets behind the defense. He's a lob threat.
“So those are two different aspects of the individuals that you really have to pay attention to -- and that just kind of comes down to details, knowing your personnel. Knowing what you can do and knowing what you can't do. And just giving the effort.
“I know Steven Adams is way stronger than me, way bigger than me, so you know I just tried to do my best and as far as playing center, today there's no positions – it’s like positionless basketball today. It's just go out there and make plays and do what you're doing and try to win the basketball game.”
Coach Terry Stotts has found a combination he likes, using Anthony and Robert Covington together – even late in games.
Read more here.
The Blazers are -1 point favorites against the Pelicans, odds provided by our partner PointsBet.
Here’s what you need to know about Thursday’s matchup –
- With his 50 points and 10 assists on March 16, Damian Lillard became the fourth player in NBA history with three or more games with at least 50 points and 10 assists (Harden, Archibald, Westbrook). March 16 marked his 12th career game with 50- plus points, tied with LeBron for the seventh-most all-time.
- Gary Trent Jr. added 22 points (6-10 FG, 3-7 3-PT, 7-7 FT), three rebounds, one assist and two steals on March 16. Trent has scored at least 15 points and made three or more three-pointers in each of his last three games against New Orleans.
- Robert Covington had nine points (3-8 FG, 3-7 3PT), five rebounds, three steals and two blocks.
- Zion Williamson had 28 points on 11-of-17 from the field (6-6 FT), five rebounds and a career-high eight assists.
- Lonzo Ball had 11 points (4-8 FG, 3-7 3-PT), three rebounds, a career-high 17 assists and two steals. Ball is the seventh player in the league to record 17 or more assists this season.
POINT SPREAD: -- Trail Blazers: -1 (-110) – Pelicans: +1 (-110)
HOW TO WATCH:
When: Thursday, March 18
Where: Moda Center | Portland, Oregon
Start time: 7:00 p.m. PT
TV channel: NBCSNW, the official network of the Portland Trail Blazers
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