Pelicans flop at home against depleted Blazers
The narrative was clear.
After playing eight of its first 11 games on the road, the New Orleans Pelicans were poised to settle in with a six-game homestand, get it going and make a serious run.
That was especially expected since Portland was missing its best player in Dame Lillard, along with Yusuf Nurkic, among others.
The table was set. All the home team had to do was to eat. Apparently, the Pelicans were not hungry.
Instead, they were eaten.
As a nearly double-digit favorite, the New Orleans Pelicans lost by double figures, dropping a 106-95 decision Thursday night at the Smoothie King Center to Portland.
It was a tough ask for both teams.
Both teams looked the part of teams that had played Wednesday night, which they had. Both had to travel to New Orleans to play after road games.
There was no advantage in that aspect.
Zion Williamson got just two shots in the quarter and made both. He did miss a pair of free throws.
Brandon Ingram carried the Pelicans with 10 points but scored all of four points the rest of the way.
Williamson did not miss a field goal in the half, going 5 for 5 but he picked up three fouls and had to sit out the final minutes of the half. Williamson finished the half with 12 points.
Portland had the ball down three points as the first half wound down. Trey Murphy blocked a shot, ran the floor, got a pass from Larry Nance Jr. and was fouled. Murphy made all three free throws to give New Orleans a 57-51 halftime lead.
The Blazers played a lot of zone in the third quarter and the Pelicans were both baffled and ineffective against it.
New Orleans was simply awful with nine turnovers in the third quarter, scoring just 17 points and trailed 78-74 going to the final frame. Williamson got just one shot and did not score in the quarter.
The Pelicans did not recover, never really threatening the rest of the way in a lethargic, disappointing effort.
Ingram fouled out with 3:32 to play with just 14 points. The Pelicans are not going to win many games with Ingram scoring 14 points.
New Orleans had five turnovers in the first half and 12 more in the second half.
Though his struggles continue on the defensive end, Williamson carried the team with 17 points in the fourth quarter to finish with 29 points.
He had very little help.
Murphy was solid off the bench with 16 points, three rebounds and a career-best three blocks.
Larry Nance Jr. returned and he did not scratch in 22 minutes.
Jonas Valanciunas had just seven points.
The shooting woes of CJ McCollum are starting to be a concern.
McCollum made just 1 of 7 shots from 3-point range in the midst of making just 6 of 17 field goal attempts, scoring just 13 points.
In his last three games, McCollum had scored just 29 points on 12 of 41 shooting from the field, including just 3 of 17 from 3-point range.
The Pelicans need more out of him.
Perhaps he would flourish more if he played off the ball more and had a guard to set him up more.
Unfortunately, the Pelicans do not have that personnel, save for Jose Alvarado on occasion.
The Pelicans, who swept the Blazers a year ago, are allegedly better this year.
You would not have known that tonight.
New Orleans, at home, against a depleted opponent, scored just 38 points in the second half.
The Blazers made key adjustments. The Pelicans had no answers.
Now 6-6, the Pelicans will host Houston Saturday night as the six-game homestand continues.
You can bet the Rockets will play zone, at some point Saturday, until New Orleans escapes the Twilight Zone on the offensive end, a true nightmarish appearance.
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…