McCollum, Blazers put away Pelicans late
PORTLAND, Ore. — There was little life to the offense of the Portland Trail Blazers until CJ McCollum came to the rescue.
McCollum scored 16 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter, and the Trail Blazers closed the game with a 9-0 run for a 103-93 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday night at Moda Center.
“I tried to be aggressive,” said McCollum, who made 4 of 7 shots from the field, 3 of 4 from 3-point range and 5 of 5 from the free-throw line over the final 12 minutes. “I tried to push the tempo a little bit more.
“I just wanted to make something happen. We were a little sluggish offensively. The flow wasn’t what we’d like to it be. Luckily we were able to get a win.”
DeMarcus Cousins collected 39 points and 13 rebounds for New Orleans (1-3).
Pelicans All-Star forward Anthony Davis played only the first five minutes before departing with a left knee injury. He did not return. Coach Alvin Gentry said an MRI on the knee proved negative.
“It sucks when you lose one of your primary guys so early in the game, but we’re a no-excuse team,” Cousins said. “We left it all on the floor tonight. We competed. I’m proud of my guys.”
The Blazers (3-1) shot only 37.5 percent from the field and committed 19 turnovers. Damian Lillard had 13 points and seven assists but made only 3 of 16 shots from the field — 1 of 8 from 3-point range — and had six turnovers.
“I didn’t realize until the end of the game was over how good a job we did on Dame and CJ,” Cousins said. “CJ got hot toward the end, but that’s two of the best guards in the league.
“It was a great team effort all the way around. We just didn’t have enough push at the end.”
New Orleans jumped to an 18-13 lead, but the Blazers outscored the Pelicans 16-1 the rest of the quarter to take a 29-19 advantage into the second period. The Pelicans gained control in the second quarter and took a 48-47 advantage into intermission.
Cousins scored eight straight points, then dished out an assist as New Orleans seized a 71-66 lead late in the third quarter. The Pelicans carried a 73-71 edge into the final period.
Portland used an 11-0 run to snap an 81-81 tie and go ahead 92-81 with 6:19 to play. McCollum started the spurt by knocking down back-to-back 3-pointers. The Pelicans responded with a 10-0 run to close to within 92-91 with four minutes to play.
Jusuf Nurkic sank a pair of free throws to up Portland’s lead to 94-91 with 3:42 left. Jameer Nelson answered with two at the other end to make it 94-93 with 3:32 to go. They were the last points New Orleans would get in the game.
Nurkic hit two more foul shots to give the Blazers a 96-93 edge with 2:01 remaining. Lillard was fouled on a 3-point attempt and made all three free throws for a 99-93 advantage with 1:25 to play.
“We had a couple of nice runs here and there, but our defense basically won it for us,” Portland coach Terry Stotts said. “Our offense struggled most of the night. We had a rough time getting it going, but we made plays when we needed to.”
NOTES: The Trail Blazers extended their record by winning their NBA-record 17th consecutive home opener, dating to a 96-86 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in 2000. ... The Blazers won the rebound battle 63-42. ... Portland C Jusuf Nurkic drew three fouls in the first 6:17 and didn’t play the rest of the first half. He finished with 12 points and seven boards in 20 minutes... Portland G Damian Lillard started 0-for-9 from the field and didn’t hit his first basket until 4:40 was left in the third quarter. ... Lillard has moved into 10th place on the franchise career scoring list with 8,964 points. Barring injury, he should climb to fourth place by season’s end and trail only Clyde Drexler (18,040, 1983-95), LaMarcus Aldridge (12,562, 2006-15) and Terry Porter (11,330, 1985-95). ... New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry said the return of G Rajon Rondo (core muscle) is “probably at least a couple of weeks away.”