Postgame wrap: Trail Blazers 122, Pelicans 110

Trail Blazers (42-26), Pelicans (30-41)
by Jim Eichenhofer
@Jim_Eichenhofer

New Orleans may have swept Portland out of the NBA playoffs last spring, but there was virtually no resemblance between those Pelicans and the ones who took the floor Friday. Among the Pelicans’ starting five this time, only Frank Jackson was a member of New Orleans’ roster a year ago – and he missed the entire 2017-18 season due to injury. Facing a very unfamiliar first unit and rotation, the Trail Blazers outlasted the Pelicans, overcoming a minor first-half deficit to build a double-digit fourth-quarter lead.

New Orleans was without Jrue Holiday (abdominal strain), Anthony Davis (rest) and E’Twaun Moore (quad), all of whom were starters during the ’18 playoffs. That club’s other two starters, Nikola Mirotic and Rajon Rondo, departed the Big Easy via midseason trade and free agency, respectively.

IT WAS OVER WHEN…

Portland’s Rodney Hood regained a double-figure advantage for the visitors by sinking two free throws with two-plus minutes remaining, putting the Trail Blazers up 118-108. New Orleans led by a point at halftime but dropped the second half by a 66-53 margin, falling behind by as much as a dozen points.

PELICANS PLAYER OF THE GAME

It was tough to narrow it down to just one Pelican, because while Julius Randle was becoming just the eighth different player in New Orleans franchise history to record a game of 40-plus points, teammate Elfrid Payton was notching his third straight triple-double, the first time that’s happened in team annals.

Randle finished Friday’s game with eye-popping numbers of 45 points and 11 rebounds on 20/34 shooting from the field. Payton excelled in multiple areas to the tune of 14 points, 12 boards and a career-high 16 assists.

FOCUS ON: GRETNA’S TRIPLE-DOUBLE MACHINE

Payton, a native of Gretna – which is located just across the Mississippi River from downtown New Orleans – was asked several postgame questions about his streak of three triple-doubles. He sheepishly replied to them, seeming to acknowledge that it’s difficult to get too excited about individual accomplishments when the Pelicans aren’t winning. New Orleans has dropped five games in a row after impressive road victories in Denver and Utah in early March.

“I think it’s kind of special,” the point guard said of his trio of triple-doubles. “It’s just unfortunate we didn’t win any of those games. I guess it’s cool.”

Payton has only been with the Pelicans for this season and missed a big chunk of the campaign, but he already ranks second on the franchise’s all-time list in total triple-doubles, behind only Chris Paul. Oddly, of Payton’s 14 career triple-doubles, 11 have taken place in March.

“I’m not going to lie. I like March,” he explained. “It’s just a different time. Trying to finish off the season. Most teams are trying to get into the playoffs. College basketball (is at its peak). I like March.”

Payton did not recall ever having a three-game streak of triple-doubles at any level of basketball, noting that he had just one in college at Louisiana-Lafayette.

BY THE NUMBERS

31-26: New Orleans advantage in assists, paced by 16 from Payton. Randle was next in line with six assists, another example of how much he had the ball in his hands against Portland’s defense.

41-22: Portland edge in bench scoring, led by Enes Kanter’s 17 points. It was a rare poor performance recently by NOLA’s subs, who shot a combined 8/25.

8/30: New Orleans three-point shooting. The Pelicans have been on a seesaw lately from distance; only Jason Smith made (2 of 4) had a decent night among those who fired three or more attempts.

Pelicans vs. Trail Blazers Postgame: Head Coach Alvin Gentry 3-15-19

Head Coach Alvin Gentry talks about the young players and their development in tonight's game against the Portland Trail Blazers.

Game 71: Pelicans vs. Trail Blazers 03/15/19

Scroll Video up Scroll Video down Scroll Video left Scroll Video right

Pelicans vs. Trail Blazers Postgame: Head Coach Alvin Gentry 3-15-19

Head Coach Alvin Gentry talks about the young players and their development in tonight's game against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Mar 15, 2019  |  04:22

Pelicans vs. Trail Blazers Postgame: Julius Randle 3-15-19

Julius Randle talks about his career-high night against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Mar 15, 2019  |  03:02

New Orleans Pelicans Highlights vs. Portland Trail Blazers

The New Orleans Pelicans fell to the Portland Trail Blazers 122-110 on Friday, March 15
Mar 15, 2019  |  02:54

Julius Randle mic'd up against Portland Trail Blazers

Listen in to Julius Randle as he's mic'd up during the Pelicans home game against the Portland Trail Blazers
Mar 15, 2019  |  00:38

Frank Jackson takes flight | Pelicans vs. Trail Blazers Highlights

Frank Jackson soars over Trail Blazers defenders and goes up for the two-hand slam
Mar 15, 2019  |  00:23

Kenrich Williams drains three ball | Pelicans vs. Trail Blazers Highlights

Kenrich Williams hits from deep as the Pelicans take on the Portland Trail Blazers
Mar 15, 2019  |  00:10

Julius Randle drops the hammer | Pelicans vs. Trail Blazers Highlights

Julius Randle goes airborne and drops the hammer against the Trail Blazers
Mar 15, 2019  |  00:27

Elfrid Payton gives Jahlil Okafor a dime | Pelicans vs. Trail Blazers Highlights

Elfrid Payton with the pocket pass to Jahlil Okafor who throws down the slam
Mar 15, 2019  |  00:22

Cheick Diallo comes up with huge block to end the half | Pelicans vs. Trail Blazers Highlights

Cheick Diallo blocks Damian Lillard and gives Frank Jackson the advantage to score a last minute bucket to put the Pelicans ahead at the half
Mar 15, 2019  |  00:10

Darius Miller hits 3-pointer with a hand in his face | Pelicans vs. Trail Blazers Highlights

Darius Miller shows off his shot as he drains a three-pointer with the defender's hand in his face
Mar 15, 2019  |  00:09

Julius Randle throws down 21 points in the first quarter | Pelicans vs. Trail Blazers Highlights

Julius Randle ties the Pelicans season-high for most points in a quarter with 21 against the Portland Trail Blazers
Mar 15, 2019  |  01:22

Frank Jackson with the steal and finesse | Pelicans vs. Trail Blazers Highlights

Frank Jackson comes up with the steal and euro-steps past the Trail Blazers defense
Mar 15, 2019  |  00:10