Struggling out of the gate in a game with tremendous playoff implications, the New Orleans Pelicans surged to beat Portland for a crucial victory.
Welcomed by an electric crowd tonight at the Smoothie King Center, the New Orleans Pelicans took on the Portland Trail Blazers in a game that carried a lot of weight in the Western Conference playoff picture.
Despite trailing by as many as 16 points in the first quarter and taking a deficit into halftime, the Pelicans rode a huge third quarter to grab a 138-117 victory over the Blazers.
Key to the victory was a huge night for Zion Williamson, who posted 31 points, 9 rebounds, and 5 assists in just 27 minutes of action.
As the New Orleans Pelicans prepare for this weekend’s All-Star break, the team has a chance to pick up some crucial victories for their playoff positioning.
Tonight’s season-series-sealing win over Portland could have heavy implications on the race for the eighth seed. Not only did the Pelicans pick up a win on the Blazers, the Pelicans now own the primary tie-breaker between the two teams should they end up with the same record.
In their first meeting of the season on Nov.19, a 22-point outing from Jrue Holiday helped New Orleans spoil the Portland debut of Carmelo Anthony in a 115-104 win for the Pelicans. In the next meeting in Portland on Dec. 23, the New Orleans Pelicans won a 102-93 defensive struggle.
The two teams will meet one more time in Portland later this month on Feb. 21, but the Pelicans will play that game with the season series already on their ledger.
Now owning a 23-31 record on the season and standing 11th in the West, the New Orleans Pelicans are starting to differentiate themselves among teams competing for the eighth seed.
Portland, meanwhile, stands at 25-29 as the 9th seed in the West, just 2.5 games behind the Memphis Grizzlies, but still just 2.5 games ahead of the Pelicans.
Jrue Holiday has been a constant heel for the Trail Blazers, as the Pelicans’ guard has been one of the few players in the league with the capability to hold Damian Lillard in check.
Playing top-tier defense against one of the league’s best offensive players, Holiday still filled it up on the offensive end. Jrue filled up the stat sheet, posting 16 points, 10 assists, 4 rebounds, 2 steals, and 2 blocks on 7-of-12 shooting, acting as a leading force in the Pelicans’ comeback.
While the Pelicans certainly showed struggles early in this game, their resilience against a really solid Trail Blazers team was quite an impressive statement for their playoff chase.
Even more impressive for the New Orleans Pelicans? They pulled off tonight’s high stakes win without Brandon Ingram, who is expected to play in the final game before the All-Star break on Thursday against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Certainly, the Pelicans are doing themselves a lot of favors by winning games heading into the break, giving their team good momentum before they’ll get a chance to rest for eight straight days.
The New Orleans Pelicans need to pick up wins over other Western Conference Playoff contenders if they want to keep moving up the conference ladder. Tonight’s win over Portland just helped the team keep moving in the right direction.