PORTLAND — For a Portland team looking to ride a five-game winning streak into Christmas, Monday night was a bad time for Damian Lillard to have one of the worst shooting games of his career.
Jrue Holiday scored 21 points, Brandon Ingram had 19 points and 11 rebounds, and the New Orleans Pelicans capitalized on Lillard’s shooting struggles to beat the Trail Blazers 102-94.
The Pelicans held Portland to just 48 points in the second half, the lowest mark the Pelicans have surrendered in a half this season, and won for the second time in three games.
“There’s a big thing in the NBA about 3s and layups and we try to take away at least one of them,” Holiday said. “Tonight they had a lot of paint points but how they shot the 3 was in our favor.”
Carmelo Anthony had 23 points and nine rebounds but Portland had its four-game winning streak snapped. Hassan Whiteside added 16 rebounds and 11 points.
Portland’s backcourt duo of Lillard and CJ McCollum was a combined 2 for 20 from the 3-point line. Lillard had an especially tough night, going 0 for 10 beyond the arc, the first time in his career that he’s failed to make a 3-pointer while attempting at least nine. His previous low mark was 0 for 8 in his rookie season.
“First time for everything,” Lillard said. “Tonight was one of those nights. I’ve been scoring and shooting the ball well enough in this league where it’s not something I’m about to go and stay up over.”
The Blazers shot 13.8% from the 3-point line, tying a franchise worst in percentage with at least 25 attempts, going 4 for 29. New Orleans, on the other hand, was 15 for 35 from the 3-point line. The Pelicans outscored the Blazers 45-12 behind the arc.
“We were into it,” Lillard said of his team’s effort. “But if you make four 3s and they make 15, it’s going to be hard to win.”
Derrick Favors had 12 points and 13 rebounds for the Pelicans, while JJ Redick had 16 points.
Anthony had 11 points in the first half of his return from injury, including a steal and 3-pointer at the first-quarter buzzer to tie the game at 31. However, Anthony’s 3-pointer was the only one the Blazers made in 12 attempts in the first half.
Lillard finished 6 of 21. He didn’t make a field goal in the fourth quarter until there were 58 seconds left.
The Blazers led 56-54 at halftime but the Pelicans made six 3-pointers in the third quarter and pushed the ball while Portland continued to struggle shooting the ball from the outside. Anthony had eight points in the third quarter to help keep Portland within single digits.
A 3-pointer by Holiday gave the Pelicans a 95-88 lead with 7:09 left in the game. A dunk by Kenrich Williams gave the Pelicans their biggest lead of the game at 101-91 with 3:34 left.
Pelicans: Zion Williamson hasn’t played yet this season but while the Pelicans aren’t giving many details about his rehab, Williamson looks like someone who is getting closer to playing condition. Williamson worked up a sweat on Monday night after going through a 20-minute workout prior to the game after participating the Pelicans’ shootaround earlier in the day. “He’s done some stuff,” Gentry said. “But as I said we’re taking it slow and he’s working his butt off to get back out on the court. When the time comes, we’ll put him out there.” The Pelicans say they will be overly cautious.
Trail Blazers: After missing the better part of the last two games, the Trail Blazers got Anthony back. Anthony banged knees with an opposing player in Portland’s win on Friday over the Orlando Magic and left after playing only 10 minutes. “He’s been working with the health and performance department over the last three games and it just gradually got to the point where he feels good to play,” coach Terry Stotts said.
Trail Blazers are at Utah Jazz on Thursday.