Game on: Blazers @ Pelicans

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Published: December 20, 2014

If you missed the game last night between the San Antonio Spurs and Portland Trail Blazers you missed an absolute barn burner. Triple Overtime and Damian Lillard taking over to settle matters in the final extra period. Every time the Blazers looked down and out Lillard would some how keep his team in the game.

Meanwhile the Pelicans have had a mini resurgence of late moving into the 8th seed in the Western Conference. Anthony Davis has been his usual self but Jrue Holiday has been exemplary for New Orleans having, as Nick Lewellen puts it, “his best season of his career.”  The Pelicans offense operates a lot more smoothly with him on the court. They post a 114 ORtg and eFG% of 52% when he’s on the court and a 102 ORtg and an eFG% of 46% when he’s off.

The last time these two teams met New Orleans seemingly had the game in their hands. The third quarter they were moving the ball, flowing well on defense and overall just looked like the better team. In the final period all of that stopped. They started playing street ball, not passing and switched off defensively.

Team Breakdown:

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Keys to the game:

  • Stopping Damian Lillard is difficult for any team. If there’s any discernible difference this year it’s that he’s posting a very strong defensive rating (102) compared to his career average (110). Last night he had 43 points and hit 4-9 three’s. The battle between he and Anthony Davis will always be a hot topic for discussion. He was all the rage in his rookie season, but now Davis has captured the media’s love (with George Karl recently saying he’d rather Davis than Lebron). It’s important to remember that these guys are both talented players. This could be the start of an amazing rivalry in the Western Conference
  • How’s this for comparisons sake: The Blazers top lineup has played 423 minutes together. The next top lineup has played 52 minutes together. The Pelicans’ top lineups are as follows: 144 minutes, 95, 81 and 42. Monty still hasn’t found a lineup he likes, while Portland have a group of guys who all have played significant time together. A lot of the guys keep talking about being patient with this young team and this highlights this further.
  • LaMarcus Aldridge has as a career average of 18 points, 9 rebounds and 2 assists when he plays against a New Orleans team. But doesn’t it seem like more than that? Containing LaMarcus can be doable, especially with Anthony Davis on him. He almost always pops when setting a pick and will go to his fadeaway on the baseline after establishing post position.
  • Robin Lopez is out injured and that’s huge for Portland. As discussed earlier about the lineups, Lopez was in the Blazers top one. Terry Stotts is going to need to do a little bit more experimenting with who replaces him. Chris Kaman seems to be the next best thing, but don’t rule out Meyers Leonard or Thomas Robinson
  • Tyreke Evans will play tonight after sitting against Houston. This is huge, but I would like him to be 100 per cent healthy. The Pels will need him as the season goes along.

Also to note the first 8,000 fans through the gates will receive a Pelicans ornament courtesy of the People’s Health. The game will feature lots of holiday elements where you can get photos with Santa as well as interact with a bunch of different stations for kids of all ages.

Benny Grunch & the Bunch featuring Kathy Savoie will be the featured halftime act – so there’s that to look forward to as well!

Make sure to follow us on Twitter for the game day commentary and discussion. This one is going to be good – Go Pels!

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