Team Records: Portland (42-23) at New Orleans (26-38)
Game Info: 5 p.m., TV on CSNNW, Radio on 620 AM
Vegas Line: Portland -2
Refs: James Capers, Kevin Cutler, Mark Lindsay
The Skinny: Okay so this road trip hasn’t gone well so far, no changing that. No changing the minor injuries that have taken out Aldridge and Mo Williams either. What’s happened has happened. Instead the Blazers need to focus on the task at hand tonight, taking down a New Orleans team that has won three straight after losing their previous eight.
Last Time They Met: Tyreke Evans hit a jumper with 1.2 seconds left to give New Orleans the win in a game they had led most of the night. New Orleans never led by more than five most of the fourth quarter but never trailed the entire second half in their win.
Projected Pelicans Lineup:
PF: Anthony Davis (Kentucky, 2nd season) – 20.8 PPG, 10.2 RPG, 1.6 APG
SF: Tyreke Evans (Memphis, 5th season) – 13.1 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 4.6 APG
C: Alexis Ajinca (France, 4th season) – 4.9 PPG, 4.7 RPG, .7 APG
SG: Eric Gordon (Indiana, 7th season) – 15.6 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 3.2 APG
PG: Brian Roberts (Dayton, 2nd season) – 9 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 3.1 APG
Player to Watch: Tyreke Evans (pictured at right) – Whatever happened to Tyreke Evans? After winning the rookie of the year in 2010 he has gradually faded from what seemed to be certain NBA stardom into obscurity. Evans has, thankfully for him, found new life in New Orleans as their sixth man. Evans has seen his shooting drop this season to 41.3% but his rebounding and assists are both significantly up. He may not be the star many thought he might one day be but he’s a very important player on this young Pelicans squad.
Did You Know?: Anthony Davis has recorded 5 30+ point games, 33 20+ point performances this year and 23 20 point/10 rebound games, amazing performances for a player appearing to be destined for stardom.
Song of the Day: “Don’t Stop Belevin’” by Journey. Sure things are bad right now but that’s no reason to stop believing in this Blazers team. Enjoy:
Portland: Out – PF LaMarcus Aldridge (Back), PF/C Joel Freeland (Knee), PG Mo Williams (Hip)
New Orleans: Out-C Jason Smith (Knee), PG Jrue Holiday (Tibia), PF Ryan Anderson (Herniated Disc)
Re-Evaluating New Orleans: Another Lost Season
Rebuilding in the NBA, especially in the ultra-competitive west is never easy. Trying to make significant improvement quickly is hard and is sometimes thwarted by factors largely outside your control, most notably injuries. Yet, despite all this, with a possible future hall of famer in Anthony Davis and a solid core, New Orleans should be farther along then they are. The way New Orleans plays, however, leaves them very little margin for error as their relatively slow pace combined with poor defense means they need to play near the top of their game to close out wins. Whatever the cause, it is another lost season and with their first round pick owed to Philadelphia and only protected for the top five picks they are in danger of having a few more lost seasons, which could see a once promising future turn into yet another from the bottom rebuilding effort.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: Make someone other than Anthony Davis beat you. Anthony Davis is an emerging superstar but he can’t win a game on his own without any help. If the Blazers can stop everyone else from going off, they should win.
New Orleans wins if: They hold Portland under 100. New Orleans is not a very good defensive team but without Aldridge Portland isn’t nearly as dangerous. If New Orleans can hold Portland under 100, they should win.