Blazers Look To Even The Series Versus Pelicans In Game 2

by Casey Holdahl
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The Portland Trail Blazers lost homecourt advantage in their Western Conference first round series Saturday night at the Moda Center. They won’t have the opportunity to get homecourt back in Game 2, though evening the series would get them on the right path.

Facing a 0-1 deficit in their best-of-seven series, the Trail Blazers host the Pelicans Tuesday night in Game 2 of the three-six matchup at the Moda Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

Despite winning their regular season finale and having a rowdy and loud sellout crowd at the Moda Center crowd supporting them, the Trail Blazers fell 97-95 to the Pelicans in Game 1 in a contest that New Orleans controlled for most of the first three quarters. Pelicans Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday, Rajon Rondo and Nikolas Mirotic all outplayed their Portland counterparts, on both sides of the ball, which allowed the visitors to build a 19-point lead before sweating out a two-point victory.

“I thought we just didn’t make shots," said Damian Lillard, who went 6-of-23 from the field. "Give credit to what they did defensively, they were physical, and they were up trapping a lot of my pick and rolls. I think it just comes down to the way we shot. We did get a fair amount of good looks, we just didn’t knock them down.”

Portland as a team shot just 38 percent from the field and 31 percent from three in the loss, though that would ultimately end up being an improvement from their percentage in the first half. Between the Pelicans' stellar defense, led by the efforts of Davis and Holiday, and the Trail Blazers missing relatively open looks, Portland would score just 36 points in the first half on 32 percent shooting with Lillard and CJ McCollum scoring a combined three points.

"I think the team that’s making shots, they going to naturally have more energy, they’re going to be motivated by that and have a little bit more of a bounce to their step on the defensive end," said Lillard. "Obviously, we run a lot of pick and rolls, a lot of action for myself and CJ and they were really aggressive on them, we had to make those plays, hit the guy in the middle, trust the weak side. I think the second quarter, they just kind of got a little run on us. That came down to making shots. They made them and we didn’t."

That will be need to change if the Trail Blazers are to even the series Tuesday night before heading to New Orleans for Games 3 and 4. While history is already against the Trail Blazers advancing after losing Game 1 at home -- Portland is 0-7 after losing the first game of a playoff series at home -- they would be all but eliminated if they lost both games at home before the series flips to the "Big Easy."

"Just to come out the gate strong, throw the first punch," said Ed Davis of what the Trail Blazers need to do Tuesday night. "Just get a win by any means, that’s all that matters at the end of the day is who had the most points at the end of the game. Don’t matter how you get it done."

The Trail Blazers could have a bit of help in Game 2, as Maurice Harkless, who has been sidelined since undergoing arthroscopy on his left knee, has been upgraded to questionable.

Tuesday night's game can be seen locally on NBC Sports Northwest with Kevin Calabro, Lamar Hurd and Brooke Olzendam. Pregame coverage on NBCNW starts at 6 p.m. Brian Wheeler and Michael Holton will have the call on Rip City Radio 620 AM starting at 7:30 p.m.