The Portland Trail Blazers entered Friday night’s contest against the New Orleans Pelicans without the benefit of having their best player, LaMarcus Aldridge, on the floor, but that didn’t slow down Portland (even on the road), and the Blazers were able to escape New Orleans with a 111-103 victory.
Portland’s entire starting lineup stepped up in a serious way without Aldridge available, and they were pulsed by Nic Batum. The versatile forward scored 22 points on 8 for 16 shooting and 4 for 8 from 3-point land, but more importantly, he was able to snatch a game-high 18 rebounds and dish out 5 assists over 45 minutes of game action. In addition to Batum, the backcourt of Damian Lillard (27 points, 5 assists) and Wesley Matthews (20 points, 3 triples) kept the Blazers afloat, and Portland was able to get a win with just 8 total points off of their bench.
On the New Orleans side, the Pelicans are going nowhere fast, but this still a semi-disappointing loss. Anthony Davis exploded to the tune of 36 points (on 15 for 27 shooting) and 9 rebounds against the gaping hole that was the Portland defense, but outside of “the brow”, only Brian Roberts (19 points, 5 assists) had anything more than a solid game for the Pelicans.
The aforementioned Aldridge is scheduled to miss just 2 games for the Blazers, and after passing their first test on Friday night, Portland is assured of a .500 mark in that stretch.