Three Takeaways from Blazers 122-110 win over the Pelicans
Once again, the final score was not indicative of the 48 minutes of basketball played between the Portland Trailblazers and New Orleans Pelicans.
For approximately 45 minutes, the Blazers were notched in a grueling battle with the Pelicans, unable to pull away until late in the fourth quarter. Scoring was initially hard to come by, and defense was sparse from the jump.
No matter though, as the Blazers spread the wealth and used a mob-approach to get the job done in New Orleans and pick up a solid win on the road.
Here are three takeaways from the victory over the Pelicans on Friday night.
Blazer Depth a Real Strength
Any time you can have at least three players finish a game scoring in double figures, there's a high probability that you were competitive in the game.
On Friday night, Portland had six different players score in double figures. Six.
Damian Lillard: 24
CJ McCollum: 23
Rodney Hood: 17
Enes Kanter: 17
Zach Collins: 12
Jusuf Nurkic: 11
Most teams in the NBA are forced to rely on one or two scorers to get a chunk of their points, which allows other to game-plan and scheme against those high-volume shooters and take away what they're good at.
When building a blue-print for stopping the Blazers, I'm not sure who you are content with leaving open. The abundance of offensive talent and scoring ability shown by Rip City this season has allowed them to pose a real threat in the West, simply for the fact that, should Dame or CJ have an off night, they can easily pass the baton to a secondary scorer and realistically expect to get 17-22 points from them.
It's a scoring league, and Portland is not lacking for scorers.
With 3:54 left in the first half, Lillard swished in a 3 from the top of the key, giving him 5 points on the night. An otherwise mundane shot from Lillard will go down in Blazer's history, as it allowed Dame to move into the No. 2 spot on Portland's all-time scoring list with 12,562 points.
Lillard now trails only Clyde Drexler, who has 18,040 career points with the Blazers.
With (knock on wood) several more years left in a Portland jersey, fans can expect to see Dame move into that No. 1 spot at some point within the next few season. But for now, cherish this moment; we are witnessing history in Portland.
What a (Lillard)-time to be alive.
No Stopping Randle
The Blazers should feel lucky that Anthony Davis was held out of this one. If he had played, there's a good chance he would have grabbed a 50/20 game.
As it is, Julius Randle shouldered the load for the Pelicans, posting 45 points and grabbing 11 rebounds in the loss.
Randle blitzed Portland in the opening period, putting up 21 points on 9-of-12 shooting in the first 15 minutes. The Blazers were able to hold Randle in check for the rest of the half, but his continued effort throughout the game magnified a major hole in the Portland defensive front.
Looking at the bigger picture, the Blazers' inability to shut down their opponents main scorer has become an issue over the years. So far this season, Portland has given up two 35+ point games to OKC's Paul George, a 38-point game to Houston's James Harden, and a 32-point game to Golden State's Klay Thompson.
Yes, it is a scorer's league, and there's little you can do to stop a shooter when he gets hot, but giving up 45 to Randle in a relatively easy game is not something that should happen.
If Portland hopes to make a run in the playoffs, where scoring is paramount, their defense will need to step it up another notch.