The Portland Trail Blazers (17-10) are riding a five-game winning streak after another MVP-type performance from Damian Lillard Tuesday night in Portland’s win over Oklahoma City.
Lillard currently ranks fourth in the NBA in scoring, averaging 29.3 points per game.
The Blazers now get set to face the New Orleans Pelicans (12-15) Wednesday night.
So far this season, Portland has gone 8-6 against Western Conference opponents.
Wednesday’s contest in New Orleans is the first meeting between the Blazers and Pelicans this season. The remaining two matchups are slated for the Second Half of the season.
The Pelicans swept the season series last season. Portland and New Orleans have taken turns sweeping the other each of the past two seasons.
The Blazers have listed Rodney Hood (left foot sprain) as questionable for Wednesday’s game, while Harry Giles (left calf strain), CJ McCollum (left midfoot fracture), Jusuf Nurkic (right wrist fracture), and Zach Collins (left ankle stress fracture) are out.
For the Pelicans, Will Magnay (G League - Two-way) and Naji Marshall (G League - Two-way) are out.
A lead that reached as high as 24, a margin that was still 14 at the start of the fourth quarter, was gone. Vanished. And not only that, the Trail Blazers were now trailing the Oklahoma City Thunder by five with a little more than four minutes to play Tuesday night.
Enter Damian Lillard, who had suffered a knee bump in the third quarter that sent him off the floor in pain.
But it was time. His time.
Sorry -- it’s a cliche. I know you’ve heard this before. But it’s as if the man is a magician, making leads disappear like a coin in the hands of a sleight-of-hand artist.
And then it all begins:
·Pull up from 25 for a step-back three -- bucket, Thunder lead cut to 2.
·Penetrate into the lane and feed Gary Trent for a wide-open three. Blazers lead by 1.
·Another step-back three, this time from 26 feet. Blazers lead by 4.
·And now a 28-footer for three. Blazers lead by 7.
·Find an open Robert Covington from 25 feet for three. Blazers lead now by 8.
·And then, the icing on the cake, a 30-footer for three that serves as the final basket of a 115-104 win over the Thunder.
A total of 12 points and two assists over the final 4:11 as Portland closes the game with 18 of the last 20 points -- all of them either scored or assisted by Lillard.
After the last basket, the 30-footer, Enes Kanter just grabbed his head with both hands in wonderment, like someone who had just discovered the one-dollar bill he’d been holding had been turned into a $100 bill.
“I've never seen anything like this before, and I’ve played with some great, great players. But I've never seen anything like this before.”
Read more here.
The Blazers are +3.5 point underdogs against the Pelicans, odds provided by our partner PointsBet.
Here’s what you need to know about Wednesday’s matchup --
- Damian Lillard averaged 19.0 points (32.4% FG, 93.3% FT), 4.0 rebounds, 6.5 assists and 1.00 steals in two games against the Pelicans last season. Lillard has scored at least 20 points in seven of his last eight games against New Orleans.
- Carmelo Anthony averaged 17.8 points (42.2% FG, 27.8% 3-PT, 100% FT), 4.8 rebounds and 1.0 assists in four games against New Orleans last season. Anthony is averaging 23.1 points and 7.0 rebounds over his 40 career games against New Orleans.
- Anfernee Simons averaged 9.3 points (27.0% FG, 28.6% 3-PT, 76.5% FT), 3.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists in four games against the Pelicans last season.
- In three games against the Trail Blazers last season, Brandon Ingram averaged 18.7 points (41.3% FG, 42.9% 3-PT, 85.7% FT), 7.3 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 1.30 steals, including a 19 points, 11 rebound double-double in Portland on Dec. 23.
- Nicolo Melli averaged 9.8 points (43.8% FG, 27.3% 3-PT, 71.4% FT), 5.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.00 steals in four games against Portland last season. He recorded a career-high nine rebounds last year on Feb. 11 against the Trail Blazers.
POINT SPREAD: -- Trail Blazers: +3.5 (-110) – Pelicans: -3.5 (-110)
HOW TO WATCH:
When: Wednesday, February 17
Where: Smoothie King Center | New Orleans, LA
Start time: 6:00 p.m. PT
TV channel: NBCSNW, the official network of the Portland Trail Blazers
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