Top Home Games of 2013-14: No. 14 vs. POR

Monday, Dec. 30, 7 p.m.

Other 2013-14 games between these two teams
Saturday, Dec. 21, New Orleans at Portland
Friday, March 14, Portland at New Orleans
Sunday, April 6, New Orleans at Portland

Why it’s on the list
The final Pelicans game of the 2013 calendar year features the premier rookies of the 2012 draft class, Portland point guard Damian Lillard and New Orleans power forward Anthony Davis. En route to capturing the 2012-13 Rookie of the Year award and logging a staggering total of 3,167 minutes, Lillard authored one of his most memorable plays vs. New Orleans. In a nip-and-tuck game in Oregon last December, the Weber State product drained a go-ahead three-pointer with just three-tenths of a second remaining. Lillard led all rookies in scoring (19.0 ppg) and assists (6.5), while Davis was No. 1 among first-year players in rebounding (8.2) and blocked shots (1.75).

The Pelicans and Trail Blazers enter 2013-14 with similar profiles: Young teams that finished below .500 last season, but projected by many NBA analysts to ascend to playoff contention. New Orleans was the league’s second-youngest team (behind only Houston) in 2012-13, but has managed to get even younger with the key additions of 23-year-olds Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans. The oldest current Pelicans player is Greg Stiemsma, who is just 27.

What’s new in Portland
The Blazers’ bench was a glaring weakness last season, the worst in the NBA by virtually any statistical measure. Portland has taken tangible steps to improve its depth this summer, including acquiring center Robin Lopez in a trade with New Orleans, guards Mo Williams (Utah) and C.J. McCollum (first-round draft pick), as well as forwards Dorell Wright (Philadelphia) and Thomas Robinson (Houston). New Orleans’ bench ran roughshod over Portland’s reserves during a 99-63 rout last February, but the Blazers now appear to be much more talented overall.