The Portland Trail Blazers continue to be a third quarter team, even if they know they can't afford to turn it on and off.
However, behind a third consecutive great game from Damian Lillard, the Blazers were able to beat the New Orleans Pelicans 110-107 at the Moda Center on Saturday night.
Wesley Matthews said before the game that the Blazers had been "getting away with turning it up a little bit in 3rd quarters, 4th quarters," and the Blazers once again needed a third quarter to get back in this game.
The Pelicans started out hot in the first quarter and the Blazers had trouble slowing them down.
Lillard continued his fantastic stretch of play, scoring 29 points and leading the Blazers in the fourth quarter with 13 points. The battle between he and the player some thought should have been the Rookie of The Year, Anthony Davis was fantastic.
Davis finished with 21 points and nine rebounds and made multiple eye-catching plays.
However, it was Lillard who ended up the winner putting the exclamation point on a spectacular week.
What does Lillard credit for his recent stretch of play as he has averaged over 33 points in the last three games? More naps.
"It might be because I'm starting to get a few more naps in," he said. "I always tell our staff and our teammates that I never take naps. I just couldn't do it but lately I've been taking naps, that might be the difference."
For Terry Stotts, what Lillard is doing shouldn't be a surprise to anyone anymore.
"Damian is Damian," said Stotts. "He understands what needs to be done. He takes it upon himself when he needs to. He's fearless taking the ball to the basket. He makes big shots, competes defensively. Damian kind of speaks for himself. It's not like we should even be surprised by it anymore."
The Blazers were struggling to slow down the Pelicans and were cold from the field to start. However, the Blazers went on a 16-4 run in the final 3:41 of the half to cut the Pelicans lead that had been as high as 13 down to one.
Lillard was the driving force behind the Blazers run in the second, scoring 12 points in the period.
Lillard and the Blazers continued their momentum into the third quarter where they've been excellent so far this season.
The Blazers outscored the Pelicans 31-25 in the third quarter, despite the fact the Blazers went 1-for-7 from distance.
The Blazers continue to be a third quarter team. Although it's not by choice but rather it's been a matter of necessity.
"I think it's urgency more than anything else," Lillard said. "We get to come in here at halftime, we talk about adjustments and we look on the screen and we're seeing the mistakes that we making. I think we smart enough basketball players i to figure it out in our mind to change it. A lot of times we are able to go out and execute that."
"I don't know, Damian says that every time, 'can we start the game as we start the third quarter?' I don't know why. We say that every game," said Batum.
The Blazers were able to hold off a late run by the Pelicans and stood tall defensively on the final possession when New Orleans had a chance to tie the game.
The win helps the Blazers move to 23-5 on the season and back into a tie for first place in the Western Conference as they head into Christmas with four days off until their next game.
"That's great. I didn't know that this would happen going into Christmas," Lillard said. "It feels good, especially to get this last win going into the small Christmas break, but it could be worse. We've got to be thankful for how well we've done and keep working so we don't fall from this."
• Anthony Davis continues to show no ill-effects after coming back from a broken hand only three days ago. Davis had 8 points and four rebounds at halftime. Jrue Holiday led the Pelicans with 11 points.
• Terry Stotts elected to play Meyers Leonard in the second quarter instead of Thomas Robinson. Leonard played 4:49, all of those minutes were alongside Joel Freeland. He grabbed one rebound and did not attempt a shot.
• Before the game, Vancouver Fire and Rescue presented the nation's colors.