Behind the Numbers presented by HUB International: Pelicans at Trail Blazers (12/2/17)

by Jim Eichenhofer

A look at three key numbers related to Saturday’s game at the Moda Center between New Orleans and Portland (9 p.m. Central, Fox Sports New Orleans, WRNO 99.5 FM):

3: NBA teams that have two players ranked in the top 20 of the league in scoring average, a group that includes only New Orleans, Portland and Golden State. Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins have both been top-10 point producers all season, while the Trail Blazers guard tandem of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum rank sixth and 20th, respectively. Incidentally, the October meeting between these clubs didn’t feature a lot of highlights from Davis or Lillard – Davis was sidelined due to injury after playing just five minutes, while Lillard was a rough 3/16 from the field and 1/8 on three-pointers. It appears we may not see Davis at all in head-to-head meeting No. 2. Following Friday’s 114-108 loss at Utah, Pelicans third-year head coach Alvin Gentry said it is “highly unlikely” Davis suits up against the Trail Blazers due to a left groin strain. That injury forced Davis to miss nearly the entire fourth quarter against the Jazz, a pivotal departure for the Pelicans.

1: Rank in three-point percentage among all NBA players for Pelicans reserve forward Darius Miller, who is enjoying a torrid shooting stretch since Nov. 1. Miller, who returned to the NBA this season after two-plus seasons overseas, began 2017-18 at just 2/14 from three-point range, but has been phenomenal over the past month-plus. With a 4/7 outing Friday at Utah, the Kentucky product improved to 43/87 on three-pointers this season, a hair under 50 percent. Portland is no slouch in this category, with two players ranked in the top 20, led by McCollum in sixth place (47.2). Second-year forward Pat Connaughton is No. 16 at 44.3. Team-wise, the Trail Blazers are eighth in accuracy from the three-point stripe (37.6), while the Pelicans are 23rd at 35.2.

7: Years since New Orleans won at Portland in a matchup that was relevant to the Western Conference race. Excluding the Pelicans’ Game 82 road triumph over the Trail Blazers last season – New Orleans was out of contention, Portland was resting starters to prepare for the playoffs – the last time they prevailed in Oregon was Nov. 26, 2010. In that 97-78 victory for the then-Hornets, Willie Green paced New Orleans with 19 points. Green is now an assistant coach for Golden State. Portland’s leading scorer in that ’10 matchup was Brandon Roy, who retired from the NBA in 2013 and now is a very successful high school coach in Seattle.