Blazers face the music in loss to Pelicans

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The Portland Trail Blazers dropped their ninth straight game on Thursday night, falling to the host New Orleans Pelicans by a final score of 127-94. For Portland, there are only two games left before a difficult season ends smoothly. For the Pelicans, victory, accompanied by a San Antonio Spurs loss, puts them in a strong position to host the impending Play-In Tournament match between the two teams.

The Blazers got off to a good start, but struggled mightily after the first quarter. They were outscored 62-42 in the second half of the game. Drew Eubanks was a bright spot, continuing his stellar playing streak with 20 points to lead the team in scoring – his 15th straight double-digit game. CJ McCollum led the Pelicans with a game-high 23 points, to go along with seven assists.

For a quarter-by-quarter breakdown, check out our instant recap. Here are the main takeaways from Thursday night’s action.

Good night to be CJ

McCollum, the former Blazer, followed up a quality performance on his return to Portland last week with another great performance, this time at his new arena. He scored 11 points in the first quarter to put the Pelicans ahead, then put things on cruise control as the lead skyrocketed from there. His 23 points came on 9-19 shooting, including 5-10 from three-point field. Playing without fellow star Brandon Ingram – a late scratch from a hamstring injury – he made sure to give his team enough to win but was able to rest on the bench for much of the second half. -time, recording only 29 minutes.

Meanwhile, Portland’s remaining CJ, CJ Elleby, put on perhaps his best offensive performance of the season. He knocked down his first two threes, scoring 13 points in the first half to lead the Blazers. He didn’t have as many chances in the second half but still finished with a career-high 17 points on 7-11 shooting, looking confident in the process.

Self-inflicted struggles

The city of New Orleans is world famous for its donuts, but the Blazers brought a different pastry to the table on Thursday. Portland committed 22 unsightly turnovers on the night, leading to 36 points for the Pelicans at the other end of the field. Additionally, the Blazers allowed an astonishing 23 offensive bounces off the Pels, while recording just 27 total boards themselves. 6’7″ rookie Herbert Jones and Willy Hernangomez had five each. Overall, New Orleans outshot the glass 49-27.

The Blazers beat the Pelicans both from the field and beyond the arc, but freebies and second-chance opportunities allowed the Pelicans another 24 field goal attempts on the night – the difference in the match. The Pels also had more than twice as many free throw attempts – 31 to 13.

big man battle

The undersized Blazers have been without a proper center since Jusuf Nurkic was stopped with a foot injury during the All-Star break. He showed against the Pelicans. In addition to the rebounding disparity, the Pels dominated the paint offensively. Jonas Valanciunas set the tone, scoring 14 points on a 5-11 shot before fouls and the scoreboard limited him to just 22 minutes. Hernangomez, his replacement, feasted on 17 points and 14 rebounds, working his way inside against Portland’s smaller front line, while drawing a number of fouls.

Eubanks was 9-11 from the field, while substitute Reggie Perry put in a solid performance with 15 points on 7-10 shooting, but the pair simply didn’t have the size to reign over their counterparts. Pelican on the defensive side of the floor.

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The score of the box

The Portland road trip ends tomorrow night against the Dallas Mavericks at 5:30 p.m. PT. They will then end the season at home against the Utah Jazz on Sunday.

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