He spoiled the expected match against CJ McCollum, his former long-time teammate and good friend.
With several major bodies down, it looked like the Blazers had a remote chance of winning at the Smoothie King Center.
But once again, the Blazers’ available players raised the bar, and the defense continued to thrive and Portland scored a 106-95 victory.
Jeramy Grant The Blazers led 27 points and Forever Simmons He scored 23. But it was the defense that lasted the night, holding the Pelicans who entered Thursday with an average of 118.2 points per game, the third-best in the NBA.
Simmons started slowly, going aimless and missing all five of his shots in the first quarter. But as he always does, Simmons kept shooting and his shots eventually started falling. He scored 10 points in the second quarter, then added another 11 points in the third quarter.
The Blazers fired 43.5% from the field, including 35.3% from a three-point range. Perhaps the most encouraging stats were nine – as in nine transformations. The team average was 17.2, and tied for most of the NBA.
“Obviously what I’m most proud of about this game is our transformation,” said Blazers coach Chauncey Billups. “When you don’t flip it, teams don’t score on you for the transfer. I love our half-court defense. They do a decent enough job. I thought our area was great in this game tonight. We kept fighting.”
Zion Williamson leads the Pelicans with 29 points. McCollum finished with 13 points and seven assists. Brandon Ingram, who missed with 3:32 remaining, scored 14 points and five rebounds.
Blazers carried the Pelican to 41.8% of the shot.
“A very big win,” said Blazers forward Justice Winslow. “This is a team we’ll see four times this year. They’ve been playing really well. We’ve had people down and out. But it’s always the mentality of the next guy. The guys got up and the guys gave plays when needed.”
what does that mean
Before the season started, this six-game trip looked like it would be a giant for the Blazers (9-3). But surprisingly, they won four of their first five games, even though Lillard has sat three times, Nurkic and Simmons missed two games and Grant was sidelined once. Pelicans fell to 6-6.
“We’ve played some really good teams on this trip and have won everything on this trip, so far,” Billups said. “We thought it was going to be a very difficult journey and it was.”
Jerami Scholarship Handover
Before the game, Billups said he told Grant, who played 42 minutes, that the team would need everything they gave for how short they were.
In fact, Pelops told Grant and Simons to take some questionable shots here and there in order to create an attack with Lillard, Nurkic, and Sharpe.
“I thought Jerami was having a great time all night,” Billups said.
One of Grant’s biggest moments came with 4:56 minutes remaining as she drove the pass, lifted and dunked over two Pelicans defenders to give the Blazers a 97-89 lead.
“For a guy who isn’t aggressive, there was a lot of aggression to that immersion,” Pelops said. “I think he knows that once you get down there, if you don’t submerge him too hard, they can hold him back…even though it was just a great move and a better ending.”
With three key players absent, this left the Blazers bench weak. Coach Chauncey Billups went with eight players, and Nasser Little was a prime choice. He came by 15 points and four rebounds, while he hit 6 of 11 rebounds. He made several major baskets in the second half.
“I was really proud and happy for Nas,” Billups said.
The only other two players off the bench are Trendon Watford and Jabbari Walker. The pair met for six points and eight rebounds. Watford had three steels.
Billups said they both did a good job of helping the attacking become less stagnant late in the game by playing the ball smart.
“These are the guys we rely on just to make things work,” Billups said. “Their numbers most of the time won’t be noticeable in the stats sheet.”
The Blazers wrapped up their six-game ride Saturday at 5:30 p.m. in Dallas (6-5).
– Aaron Fentress reported from New Orleans.
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