Game Preview: Pelicans vs. Trail Blazers - March 14, 2014
As the only players from the 2012 NBA Draft to have already been chosen to play in an NBA All-Star Game, Anthony Davis and Damian Lillard enjoyed the rare opportunity to be Western Conference teammates Feb. 16 here in the Smoothie King Center. They also played against each other two days earlier, when the NBA held its annual Rising Stars Challenge.
Davis and Lillard are back on the Crescent City hardwood again Friday night, when the New Orleans Pelicans host the Portland Trail Blazers in a West matchup. The Pelicans and Trail Blazers split their two previous meetings, both nail-biters that weren’t decided until the final possession of the game.
Portland struck first in the four-game head-to-head season series on Dec. 21, prevailing 110-107 in Oregon. Lillard drilled one of the game’s most important baskets, a three-pointer with 1:27 remaining that gave the Trail Blazers a 106-105 lead. The Pelicans had a chance to send the game to overtime at the end of regulation, but a three-point attempt by Tyreke Evans misfired just before the buzzer.
Just nine days later in Louisiana, Evans got another opportunity to sink a momentous shot against Portland, but this time delivered in a 110-108 New Orleans triumph. With the game tied at 108 and time ticking down, Evans swished a 17-foot jumper from the right wing over Portland defender Mo Williams. With only 1.2 seconds to work with, Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge attempted to force overtime on a turnaround jumper over Davis, but the shot was well off the mark, hitting the top of the backboard before going out of bounds.
Following Friday’s game, these teams will have one more matchup remaining, an April 6 tilt in Portland. The Trail Blazers are in pursuit of a top-four seed in the heated West playoff race. Friday’s stop in NOLA marks the last of a brutal five-game road trip, including visits to Dallas, Houston, Memphis and San Antonio.
Anthony Davis vs. LaMarcus Aldridge