Wednesday, March 22, 2023
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NBA Preview: New Orleans Pelicans (30-32) at Portland Trail Blazers (29-32)

Damian Lillard had his lowest point total in a game in more than five weeks, one game after putting up the most points of his career.

When the Trail Blazers play host to the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday night, the Portland star will attempt to regain his scoring prowess.

In Sunday’s 131-114 win over the Houston Rockets, Lillard scored a career-high 71 points. However, in Tuesday’s 123-105 road loss to the Golden State Warriors, Lillard only managed 25 points.

Lillard scored 19 points in the first half in San Francisco, when Portland held a 23-point lead before taking a 65-48 halftime lead. However, he only scored six points in the second half as the Trail Blazers were outscored 75-40 and were being pursued by multiple defenders.

After netting 13 treys against Houston, which tied him for the second most in NBA history, Lillard was just 2 of 7 from behind the arc. However, for the 22nd time in a row, he scored at least 20 points.

For the sixth time in nine games, the Trail Blazers lost because they had a lot of problems in the second half.

Lillard and CJ McCollum will face off against each other for the first time on the court on Wednesday. Before McCollum was acquired by the Pelicans in a deal that took place more than a year ago, the two close friends manned the starting backcourt for six and a half seasons.

When the teams played twice last season following the trade, Lillard was out with an abdominal injury that ended the season. Additionally, Lillard did not play in Portland’s 106-95 victory in New Orleans on November 10 in the season opener. The Trail Blazers were playing in their second game of a back-to-back, and Lillard had just returned from a calf injury.

That night, Portland’s Jerami Grant scored 27 points, while the Pelicans’ Zion Williamson scored 29. After averaging 24 points in each of his previous two games against the Trail Blazers, McCollum only managed to score 13.

Williamson hasn’t played for the Pelicans since January 2 due to a sore hamstring. While he is out, New Orleans is just 7-18.

Additionally, the Pelicans will be without forward Larry Nance Jr. (ankle) and guard Jose Alvarado (lower leg). Both guard Josh Richardson (quadriceps) and center Jonas Valanciunas (calf) are listed as questionable.

The Pelicans are currently one half-game behind Portland for the final play-in berth in the Western Conference and have lost four of their last five games.

This is New Orleans’ sixth game in a series in which seven of eight games are played on the road.

The Pelicans failed to make the most of their one home game, falling to the Orlando Magic 101-93 on Monday night.

Brandon Ingram of New Orleans scored 25 points against Orlando, making it his eighth time in nine games that he has scored at least 25 points.

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