Cousins steps up with Davis out to lift Pelicans past Blazers
PORTLAND, Ore. — With Anthony Davis missing and the New Orleans Pelicans playing the second of back-to-back games, DeMarcus Cousins knew it would take something extra.
Cousins and his teammates had it in a 123-116 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers Saturday night at Moda Center.
The 6-foot-11 center scored 38 points, grabbed eight rebounds and got plenty of help as the Pelicans (12-11) snapped a three-game losing streak. Davis sat out the game with a pelvis injury suffered late in Friday night’s 114-108 loss at Utah.
“It was a great team effort,” Cousins said. “My partner in crime (Davis) went out last night and we crumbled as a team. We tried to come in tonight with no excuses and left it all on the floor.”
New Orleans shot superbly — 52.3 percent from the field and 48.4 percent from 3-point range, sinking 15 of 31 from beyond the arc.
E’Twaun Moore scored 19 points, Jrue Holiday added 17 and Rajon Rondo chipped in 12 points, 10 assists and six rebounds for the Pelicans.
“Truly a team win,” New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry said. “We did a great job defensively.”
Damian Lillard scored 29 points and CJ McCollum and Meyers Leonard added 17 apiece for the Trail Blazers (13-10), who lost their second straight. But Lillard (11 of 25) and McCollum (8 of 22) had their shooting problems.
“I think we’ll take 19 for 47 (combined),” Gentry said. “Our ‘bigs’ did a great job of being up on the screen, and the guards did a great job of fighting over the top.”
Portland went on a 15-2 tear to extend a 16-15 lead to 31-17 late in the first quarter. Lillard scored 13 points in the quarter as the Blazers went into the second quarter with a 33-26 advantage.
Rondo’s 3-point shot gave the Pelicans a three-point edge at halftime.
The Pelicans started the third quarter on an 23-8 run to go ahead 83-65. It was 96-77 late in the quarter and 98-82 heading into the final period.
Portland closed within 108-96 with 6:07 left. The Blazers cut it to 113-102, but Cousins knocked down a 3-pointer to make it 116-102 with 3:12 to go.
Lillard sank three straight free throws to trim the difference to 116-105 with 2:51 to play.
Lillard scored on a drive to make it 116-107 with 2:21 remaining. Holiday answered with a layup to push the Pelicans ahead 118-107 with 1:44 left.
Lillard bombed in a long-range 3 to close the Blazers within 121-116 with 15 seconds to play, but Moore sealed the outcome with two foul shots with 7.4 seconds left.
“We didn’t finish the first and second quarters,” Portland coach Terry Stotts said. “We didn’t start off the third quarter. That was pretty much the game. Between those three segments, they outscored us by 30 (points), at least.
“We have to maintain our focus better. It seems like sometimes when the offense is coming easy, we don’t have the same focus defensively.”
NOTES: The Pelicans weren’t sure of the extent of the injury to F Anthony Davis (pelvis). “He’s going to see doctors when we get back (to New Orleans),” Coach Alvin Gentry said. “We’ll know more after that.” Davis played only five minutes before suffering an injury in the teams’ first meeting, a 103-93 Portland win on Oct. 24. ... Even without Davis, New Orleans won the rebound battle with Portland 43-35. F Dante Cunningham led the way with 12. ... Portland had won 13 of the previous 14 meetings with New Orleans at Moda Center. “We’ve struggled in this building,” Gentry said. ... The Blazers are only 7-6 at home this season. ... Pelicans F Darius Miller, who leads the NBA in 3-point percentage at 48.4, started the season 2 of 15 from the 3-point line. Since then, he has gone 43 of 80 (53.8) from beyond the arc. Miller scored 10 points and made 2 of 6 3-point attempts. ... The Pelicans started 6-foot-4 E’Twaun Moore, 6-4 Jrue Holiday and 6-1 Rajon Rondo. The last time Gentry started three players 6-4 or shorter? “In high school, I did,” he said.