Road Takes: Batum’s double-double, Lillard’s late buckets ruin Anthony Davis’ career night
I don’t know if you can call it a season-saving win, but the Portland Trail Blazers got an important win Friday night in New Orleans by the final score of 111-103.
Portland’s starting line-up all scored in double figures but they were led by Nicolas Batum’s 22 points, 18 rebounds and five assists in over 45 minutes of play.
The Blazers were trailing after the third quarter and looked like they had no way of stopping New Orleans’ All-Star Anthony Davis who scored a career-high 36 points for the Pelicans.
Batum kept cleaning the glass and Damian Lillard scored 16 of his 27 points in the final period to help the Blazers outscore New Orleans 31-22 in the fourth quarter.
Batum and Lillard weren’t the only ones who played well and Robin Lopez, who finished with 19 points, made key baskets down the stretch around the basket on a put back and another one with the shot clock running down.
Batum’s effort in over 45 minutes tonight was particularly impressive as he took it upon himself to attack the glass with Portland’s leading rebounder sitting out. He also took it upon himself to attack the basket and assert himself from the three-point line.
The three-point line has been key to the health of the Blazers offense all season long and we saw once again tonight that it’s usually a good thing when they shoot a lot of threes.
The left corner and the top of the arc were incredibly important to Portland’s offensive success tonight. It should also be noted that the Pelicans had quite a few break downs leading to open looks for Portland.
The Blazers are now 11-5 this season in games where they attempt 30 or more three pointers.
However, for a team that was in danger of losing their fifth straight game, Stotts and the Blazers certainly won’t complain because they needed this tonight.
Things looked grim for a time as the Pelicans attacks to the basket, mainly those by Tyreke Evans, didn’t receive a lot of friction from the Blazers defense. A few times, Davis would trail the driving Evans and would get quality looks around the basket.
However, Portland’s defense was back to being stingy around the three-point line and much of the Pelicans success came from an excellent night from the midrange. New Orleans had a very above-average night on midrange shots, shooting 48 percent on 31 shots. The league average for midrange shots is just above 40 percent.
Brian Roberts started going to work on Portland in the fourth quarter and Terry Stotts gave Thomas Robinson his first minutes of the game in the fourth quarter.
All things considered, Portland should be happy for not only getting the win but doing it in a game when New Orleans scored 23 points off of 16 Blazer turnovers and had a great night from them midrange.
Lillard changed the complexion of the game in the final moments when he hit a three-pointer in Davis’ face with 1:14 left to put the Blazers up by 7. The Blazers worked hard to get the lead but that was the first time since the first quarter Portland had a lead bigger than two possessions.
- Wesley Matthews had a nice game, scoring 20 points and Dorell Wright scored in double-digits for the second straight game, this time as a starter, as he contributed 15 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists.
- Lillard racked up nearly 42 minutes tonight. He and Batum were the only Blazer players that played over 40 minutes.
- It appears that Stotts is choosing between playing Meyers Leonard and Thomas Robinson right now in his Aldridge/Williams/Freeland-less rotation. He elected to go small for longer periods of time and neither Leonard nor Robinson eclipsed the 8 minute mark.
- Will Barton got the most minutes of any Blazer player and had a rough night from the field, going 1-for-7 but had 3 assists.
- The Blazers say that Nicolas Batum joined Kevin Love as the only player in the NBA this season to have 22+ points, 18+ rebounds, 5+ assists and 4+ threes made in a game. They added later that he joined Love, LeBron James and Antoine Walker as the only players in league history to have such a game.
- The Blazers will be without Aldridge and Williams again when they play the Golden State Warriors on Sunday at the Moda Center. They are two games up on the Warriors in the standings but Warriors guard Klay Thompson will not be with the team as he is away from the team tending to a family issue.