Pelicans Stun Carmelo Anthony, Blazers on the Road Despite Lonzo Ball Struggles

Megan ArmstrongAnalyst IIIDecember 24, 2019

PORTLAND, OR - DECEMBER 23: Lonzo Ball #2 of the New Orleans Pelicans handles the ball against the Portland Trail Blazers on December 23, 2019 at the Moda Center in Portland, Oregon. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images)
Sam Forencich/Getty Images

The New Orleans Pelicans snapped the Portland Trail Blazers' four-game winning streak by upsetting them 102-94 at the Moda Center on Monday night.

Portland veteran guard Carmelo Anthony was listed as questionable Sunday with a left knee contusion. The 35-year-old 10-time All-Star not only started the contest but also led all scorers with 23 points.

However, Anthony's efforts weren't enough. The Pelicans collectively outplayed the Blazers down the stretch, even though each squad held a 10-point lead at some point throughout the game. New Orleans' biggest advantage came from deep, shooting 42.9 percent (15-of-35) from three.

The 8-23 Pelicans have now won two of three after losing a franchise-worst 13 games in a row, while the 14-17 Blazers fell one game further away from hitting .500 for the first time since Nov. 2.


Notable Stats

NO G Jrue Holiday: 21 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal

NO F Brandon Ingram: 19 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals

NO F Derrick Favors: 12 points, 13 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 1 block

NO G JJ Redick: 16 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist

POR F Carmelo Anthony: 23 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal

POR G CJ McCollum: 20 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal

POR G Damian Lillard: 18 points, 3 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals


Lonzo Ball Struggles to Find Footing in Starting Five

Ball started for the Pelicans after spending their last two games as a reserve, and he did not have a strong showing.

The 22-year-old guard was limited to just six minutes of action in the first half after committing two personal fouls three minutes into the game. His third foul came with 9:18 remaining in the second quarter.

Ball scored his first points on a three-pointer at the third quarter's 7:31 mark, and he found a little groove:

New Orleans Pelicans @PelicansNBA

Lonzo gives us the lead from deep! https://t.co/PSoVmVnziD

New Orleans Pelicans @PelicansNBA

Zo hit the JETS all the way to the rim! 💨 https://t.co/84tOBFRcqB


Lonzo PUTBACK! 😤 #WontBowDown https://t.co/DkLskQWTgh

And that stretch was the extent of his scoring.

The Pelicans need Ball to produce consistently from the opening tip. The 2017 second overall pick entered Monday shooting just 38.0 percent from the field and carrying a minus-10.3 net rating, per NBA.com.

The Pelicans were able to pick up Ball's slack against Portland by getting hot from three-point land and having four starters plus reserve E'Twaun Moore scoring in double digits. Alvin Gentry's squad has proved it can't bank on that night-in and night-out.

For whatever reason, the Pelicans have Portland figured out:

Will Guillory @WillGuillory

Pels vs the Blazers: 2-0 Pels vs rest of the NBA: 5-23

The problem is, New Orleans can't play the Blazers 82 times.

True evaluation of this Pelicans roster has been stalled because rookie top overall pick Zion Williamson has yet to make his regular-season debut while recovering from Oct. 21 arthroscopic knee surgery. Ball has been the personification of the team's inconsistency. That said, perhaps Monday's strong collective effort can be a building block moving forward.


Blazers' Uncharacteristic Three-Point Struggles Do Them In

Portland is oriented around the deep ball, and it was not falling against the Pelicans.

Lillard went 0-of-10 from three on the evening—the first time he's been blanked from deep this season—while Portland's backcourt went 2-of-20.

Anthony hit a highlight three at the first-quarter buzzer:

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Melo at the buzzer 👌🚨 https://t.co/fQWr5RFP16

But it was all downhill from there.

According to team reporter Casey Holdahl, Portland's fewest made threes in a win this season is eight. The team finished Monday night having gone 4-of-29, a putrid 13.8 percent. Inefficiency from deep punctuated the Blazers' sour outing:

Casey Holdahl @CHold

Blazers with four missed three-pointers in the last three possessions. That's your game.

It was uncharacteristic for a team that entered the matchup ranked sixth in the league with a 36.6 percent average from three-point range, which could simply be considered an anomaly. However, an already underperforming Portland can't afford to lose to a team not far removed from a 13-game losing streak.

The Blazers' real worry should be whether their four-game winning streak entering this game was the true anomaly. Their opponents were a combined 40-78.


What's Next?

The Pelicans will travel to Denver and play the 21-8 Nuggets at 10 p.m. ET on Christmas.

The Blazers next play at Utah on Thursday, beginning at 10:30 p.m. ET.