Trail Blazers’ Best Supporting Defense Boosts Pelicans Stars

As the immortal Jerry Reed reminded the world in 1971, whenever you’re scorching you’re scorching, whenever you’re not you’re not. And the Portland Trail Blazers usually are not scorching.

The Blazers confronted the New Orleans Pelicans with out Damian Lillard on Sunday night. They additionally lined up with none protection, scoring punch, or apparently a lot delight. Even with out Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram, the Pelicans housed their visitors within the first interval and barely regarded again on the way in which to a 127-110 victory. At one level, the Blazers trailed by 39.

Anfernee Simons scored 17 within the loss, taking pictures 7-15 from the sector in opposition to stiff stress. He went 2-7 from distance, foreshadowing Portland’s 10-33, 30.3% total efficiency from the arc. Matisse Thybulle added 10 and Cam Reddish 11 for the starters, whereas 4 Blazers scored in double figures off the bench, led by Shaedon Sharpe and Kevin Knox II with 14 every.

Trey Murphy III scored a career-high 41 for the Pelicans, taking pictures 13-20 from the sector and 9-14 from the arc. CJ McCollum added 22.

The loss drops Portland to 31-37, a full 6 video games under .500 within the race for the 2023 NBA Playoffs…which now appears very very similar to a visit to the postseason Play-In Tournament, if something. The Pelicans now lead the tiebreaker between the groups 2-1, with a single recreation remaining and the groups separated by two losses.

Here’s how the sport went.

First Quarter

The Blazers survived about 5 minutes with out Damian Lillard which, to be truthful, is about 4 minutes and thirty seconds greater than anyone thought they’d. Anfernee Simons scored a few instances on the cup as Portland’s forwards set one another up for pictures. It was sufficient for a 10-8 edge on the 8:00 mark of the interval.

Then turnovers began a cascade of straightforward pictures for New Orleans in opposition to a scrambling, and infrequently bumbling, protection CJ McCollum and Trey Murphy III appeared to take Portland’s existence personally, blistering them with shot after shot that ballooned the result in 15, 31-16, simply 4 minutes later. Soon after Jerami Grant took an elbow to the attention on a shot try, sending him to the locker room with a visage that regarded like week-old potato salad. That didn’t assist issues a lot.

Helping even much less: the Lillard-less Blazers opened the sport 1-5 from distance whereas New Orleans shot 7-10. And that’s in Portland’s benefit class.

It’s not just like the Blazers failed to attain. They really shot 60% from the sector within the quarter. But miscues restricted them to fifteen shot makes an attempt whole, plus they allowed 60% in return, 8 factors on the break. New Orleans led 42-25 after one.

Second Quarter

Portland made a shiny run at the beginning of the second behind much more scoring from Simons and the wings, however McCollum swatted them again with a pair buckets of his personal. Portland’s zone protection had CJ slipping in his personal drool. On the opposite finish, the Blazers had no playmaking to again up their particular person scorers. Simons tried to press the problem, however his buckets weren’t sufficient to divert the parade of turnovers and bricks. Pelicans turnovers offered a skinny thread saving the Blazers from oblivion, however that was it.

Fortunately for Portland, Matisse Thybulle, Nassir Little, and Cam Reddish stayed lively on protection and did handle to power these TO’s. It was one of many few instances all season the zone paid actual dividends…besides, after all, when the Pels acquired it inside. Then it was nonetheless catastrophe.

Still, disruptive palms have been sufficient to get Portland inside single digits on the 5:00 mark…a ray of hope in an in any other case dismal half. But each time it regarded just like the Blazers would break via, the Law Offices of McCollum and Murphy would take them to courtroom, often through the three. Trendon Watford got here robust because the half dwindled and Thybulle saved scoring like he was born to it, however New Orleans ran off an 10-0 run to shut the interval and led 74-54 at intermission.

Third Quarter

Anfernee Simons had a dunk initially of the third? That’s the excellent news, I suppose. But the Pelicans began destroying Jusuf Nurkic and the Blazers inside, bringing it to lower than naught in a flash. When slow-as-frozen-molasses Jonas Valanciunas dunked on the fly—you learn that proper—with 8:08 remaining, New Orleans led 87-59, all however erasing the efforts of Simons and firm.

That was the symbolic finish of the sport even earlier than Herb Jones threw down a poster dunk within the halfcourt, or Murphy canned one other three, or New Orleans went up by 30. The spark fizzled out of the offense as they devolved into isolation ball with out their greatest isolation participant in uniform. Meanwhile the protection had all of the skilled integrity of a Pepto Bismol jingle.

Surprisingly, Ryan Archidiacano couldn’t cease Murphy, as New Orleans’ new All-NBA scorer was on a 14-point roll within the interval. To be truthful, Archidiacano might have been just a little bit overmatched on these switches. Murphy hit three threes in a row within the closing two minutes. The Pelicans led 109-73 after the third.

Fourth Quarter

Any try to explain Portland’s defensive effort at this level would must be in Spongebob font. We’ll simply share one stat. At the 9:00 mark within the fourth, the Pelicans had 33 assists on 40 made buckets, an outstanding 83% help ratio. Portland’s deep reserves had a few good moments throughout rubbish time, however the monster beneath the compactor had lengthy pulled them beneath the floor. There weren’t sufficient Kevin Knox factors within the universe to make that higher.

Up Next

Stay tuned for evaluation following the sport.


With their six-game street swing full, the Blazers get a day without work, welcoming the New York Knicks to the Moda Center on Tuesday night time with a 7:00 PM, Pacific begin.

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