Blazers beat Pelicans 103-93 to extend home-opener streak
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The Trail Blazers preserved their streak with a late push.
CJ McCollum scored 16 of his 23 points in the final quarter and Portland won its NBA-record 17th straight home opener with a 103-93 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday night.
Damian Lillard and Evan Turner each added 13 points for Portland, which is off to a 3-1 start for the first time since the 2011-12 season.
“We just tried to be aggressive, tried to push the tempo a little bit more and we got some stops, a lot of stops in the second half,” McCollum said. “We just wanted to make something happen. We were a little sluggish offensively, our flow wasn’t as good as we would like it to be. But luckily we were able to get a win.”
DeMarcus Cousins had 39 points and 13 rebounds for his fourth straight double-double to start the season. The Pelicans were hurt when Anthony Davis departed with a left knee injury in the first quarter.
McCollum hit back-to-back 3-pointers to put Portland up 87-81 with 7:32 left. Lillard, who had been cold through three quarters, added a layup and another 3 to extend the lead to 92-81.
The Pelicans answered with a 10-0 run to close to 92-91 with 4:06 left. Lillard was fouled on a 3-point attempt and made all three free throws to give the Blazers a cushion at 99-83 with 1:25 left.
“We got stops. DeMarcus Cousins is a handful. Jrue Holiday is really crafty out there. They have so many options, guys that are aggressive and can go make something happen,” Lillard said. “We buckled down, we got stops, we rebounded. A few shots went in for us and we pulled it out.”
Davis left for the locker room midway through the opening period after he appeared to knock knees with Lillard. In his sixth NBA season, Davis had 27 points and 17 rebounds in New Orleans’ 119-112 victory over the Lakers in Los Angeles on Sunday.
Following the game, Davis was not walking with a noticeable limp when he left the arena.
“At halftime I was hoping AD was going to come back out there,” Cousins said. “That didn’t happen. I had to step up to the plate, and that’s what I tried to do.”
Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic got into foul trouble with three in the first half of the opening quarter and Portland fell behind 18-13. The Blazers quickly turned things around with a 16-1 run to lead 29-19 going into the second.
Portland stretched the lead to 13 points but the Pelicans caught up to take a 48-47 lead at the half.
Lillard struggled through the first three quarters, going just 1 for 12 from the floor. He was averaging 23.7 points going into the game.
Cousins hit a turnaround jumper that put the Pelicans up 69-66 late in the third quarter. He had 18 of the team’s 25 points in the period and New Orleans led 73-71 going into the final quarter.
“I didn’t realize until the game was over how good a job we did on Dame and CJ — CJ got hot toward the end. That’s two of the best guards in the league. It was a great team effort all the way around (but) we just didn’t get the win,” Cousins said. “We just didn’t have enough push at the end.”
Portland’s Ed Davis finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds for his 50th career double-double.
Portland was coming off a 113-110 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday. The Blazers had won their first two games of the season.
Pelicans: The Pelicans head to Sacramento on Thursday to visit Cousins’ former team. In an interview with ESPN on Tuesday, Cousins said he should have left the Kings earlier but he was loyal to the team he started his career with. Cousins was traded to the Pelicans last season at the All-Star break. ... New Orleans had won three of the last four against the Blazers.
Trail Blazers: To celebrate the start of the season, Pyramid Brewing Co. on Tuesday introduced Blazermania IPA. The new beer was on tap at the Moda Center for the home opener.
Lillard said he wasn’t even sure when Davis left the game, and didn’t recall bumping into him.
“I think had he been out there, it would have just made it a better game. It would have forced us to be sharper. Not that we took it for granted, but it would have forced us to be sharper knowing that that guy was out there,” Lillard said.
The Pelicans visit the Kings on Thursday.
The Trail Blazers host the Clippers on Thursday, the second of a four-game homestand.