PORTLAND — Damian Lillard scored 22 points and eight assists to lead the Portland Trail Blazers to a 128-112 win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday night.
CJ McCollum and reserve forward Jake Layman scored 20 points each for the Trail Blazers. Layman got all his points in the second quarter.
Anthony Davis finished with 27 points and seven rebounds for New Orleans. Jrue Holiday had 20 points and Julius Randle pitched in 19.
Other than the first quarter, the Trail Blazers dominated.
Portland opened things up in the second thanks to their reserves, most notably the scoring from Layman.
In the span of 2 1/2 minutes, the Moda Center became a playground like scene. Layman scored 11 points in six Portland possessions as the crowd stood up and the Blazers force-fed him the ball, helping them push their lead as high as 17.
The Blazers also had 23 second-chance points thanks to 18 offensive rebounds.
The Blazers quickly got their lead up to 21 in the third quarter, with Lillard scoring 10 points in the period.
New Orleans, which trialed by 18 going into the fourth, got a push from its reserves to pull within eight with under eight minutes remaining.
A 3-point play by CJ McCollum pushed the lead back to 11, which helped get the Blazers back on track with 7:37 left.
Pelicans: New Orleans has struggled with injuries, but one of the key contributors is getting healthier. It’s only been nine days since forward Nikola Mirotic was cleared to return to action after missing 12 straight games in December and early January. Head coach Alvin Gentry told reporters prior to Friday’s game that he’s not monitoring Mirotic’s minutes anymore.
“I think when he first came back, you want to be a little cautious on it,” Gentry said about re-incorporating Mirotic. “I don’t plan on playing him 38 minutes or anything but I don’t have to look at anything and say he’s at 25 minutes, uh oh.”
Trail Blazers: With a backcourt featuring two scoring guards, questions about the defense are frequent. But lately, they’ve been quite stingy. Over the last 10 games, the Blazers have been fourth in defensive rating. Coach Terry Stotts likes the team’s consistency on that end.
“Part of it is we’ve been playing teams with poor records but we’ve still stayed consistent with it,” Stotts said. “We’ve been pretty locked in on scouting reports and tendencies and their plays and things like that. But over the last 11-12 games, statistically we’ve been pretty good.”