Lillard explodes for 43 points, Blazers edge Pelicans

NBA

Portland Trail Blazers forward Carmelo Anthony (00) drives to the basket during the first half of the team’s NBA basketball game against the New Orleans Pelicans in New Orleans, Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Damian Lillard scored 43 points, including a go-ahead three-point play with 16.5 seconds left, to lift the Portland Trail Blazers to their sixth consecutive victory, 126-124 over the New Orleans Pelicans.

Lillard had 11 fourth-quarter points and was clutch in the final seven minutes. Zion Williamson finished with 36 points for New Orleans.

The Pelicans had a final chance, but Lonzo Ball missed a 3-pointer and Brandon Ingram threw up an airball at the buzzer.

ANALYSIS:

  1. Big night for Robert Covington 

There has been some talk revolving around Covington and if he was worth the big handful of draft picks that the Blazers gave up in order to get the talented defensive player. Against the Pelicans tonight, he showed why he was worth the handful of draft picks. While looking at the stat sheet, it wasn’t anything that would jump out on the paper, but he brings extreme effort every play for the Blazers, hustle plays, diving on the ground, communication, everything in order to put the Blazers in a position to win. Tonight he finished with a solid 10 points, eight rebounds and four blocks, which helped lift the Blazers over the Pelicans. 

  1. Damian didn’t have to do it all

At times this season, and throughout his career, Damien Lillard has had to have big time scoring nights game in and game out in order for the Blazers to get a win or even be in a position to get the win. He did have another big scoring night with 43 points, but the Blazers had six players score in double figures which they haven’t had consistently this season.

  1. Blazers struggled to slow down Zion Williamson

Williamson is arguably the most talented young star in the entire NBA and tonight against the Blazers he showed why. Willamson finished with a monster game with 36 points, six rebounds and four assists. The Blazers had a hard time stopping him but luckily managed to slow him down late down the stretch. 

  1. Damian Lillard is the MVP

With all due respect, there are some great players in the NBA. But, with that being said there isn’t one player who is playing better than Damien Lillard right now. Lillard again had himself a huge game against the Pelican finishing the game with 43 points and 16 assists. Though the season is still very young, there shouldn’t be a conversation about MVP without Lillards name in the mix. What he has been able to do this season between leading the Blazers to the fourth spot in the western conference and his consistent 

  1. The Blazers have found their stride 

About a month ago, most folks wrote the Blazers  after some big injuries to their stars CJ. Mccollum and Jusuf Nurkic. But, since then, the Blazers have found ways to keep winning even when they are considered the underdogs. This is very encouraging because this not only shows the versatility with the current roster, but shows the depth and growth of the young players and how once this team is fully healthy how dangerous they could be. 

  1. Late game play from the Blazers

The Blazers continue to grind out gutsy wins to extend their win streak to six games. This wouldn’t be possible without their very good late game play. Whether it be on the defensive end or offensive end, this win streak has been because the Blazers find ways to play their best basketball when they need to in these nail biters as long as they are able to win the games late in the fourth quarter, the Blazers will continue to win.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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