PORTLAND, Ore. — The Pelicans were motivated against the Trail Blazers by a tough loss the night before and the absence of Anthony Davis.
DeMarcus Cousins had 38 points and New Orleans — missing Davis because of a pelvic injury — beat Portland 123-116 on Saturday night.
E’Twaun Moore added 19 points, including four 3-pointers for the Pelicans, who were playing the second of a back-to-back after a loss to the Jazz the night before. They snapped a three-game losing skid.
“I think it was a great team effort. We preached before the game, ‘No excuses,'” Cousins said. “It stinks that my partner in crime AD went out last night. That being said we kind of crumbled as a team the previous night. We just tried to come in with no excuses.”
Damian Lillard had 29 points and eight assists for the Blazers, who have lost two straight after a three-game winning streak. CJ McCollum added 17 points.
Lillard got the Blazers within 116-107 with a layup with 2:20 left, but Jrue Holiday answered with a layup. Lillard had a 3-pointer with 12 seconds to go that narrowed the game to 121-116, as close as Portland would get.
The Pelicans, who led by as many as 19 points, were short-handed because of injuries, suiting up 11 players for the game.
Davis, the Pelicans’ top scorer with an average of 25.2 points, was ruled out against the Blazers because of a the injury. An All-Star, Davis was injured in the fourth quarter against the Jazz and was carried off the court because he couldn’t put pressure on his legs. He had 19 points and 10 rebounds before leaving and New Orleans lost to the Jazz 114-108.
Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry called the effort against the Blazers “truly a team win.”
“We have to do that in order to win, and I thought we were really focused when we went out,” Gentry said. “We built a lead, they cut back into it, but I think we did a really good job of just standing pat.”
Lillard had 13 points in the first quarter, and his 3-pointer with 2:15 left in the period gave the Blazers a 31-17 lead. Cousins’ basket got New Orleans within 35-32 in the second quarter and the Pelicans took a 60-57 lead into halftime after consecutive 3-pointers from Moore and Rajon Rondo.
The Pelicans went on an 11-4 run to start the third quarter, pushing their lead to 71-61. They would led by as many as 18 points in the period.
The game got chippy near the end of the quarter. Meyers Leonard was handed a flagrant foul after coming down on Cousins on an attempted block, a call that fans at the Moda Center weren’t happy about. Soon thereafter Blazers coach Terry Stotts was handed another tech as fans continued to boo the officials.
Jameer Nelson hit Leonard in the face on the other end and Leonard flung the ball toward the basket — and it went in. Nelson also got a flagrant.
Leonard said he had no clue that the odd shot had fallen.
“I got hit, and then I just flipped it up like whatever,” he said. “Then 5 or 6 seconds later everyone’s screaming their head off and I’m not really sure what happened. I was yes, very shocked.”
Cousins, for his part, said afterward that things never got heated with Leonard.
The Blazers were coming off a 103-91 loss to Milwaukee on Thursday. It was the team’s first home game after a 4-1 trip.
Pelicans: Dante Cunningham started in Davis’ place. … The Pelicans’ 38 third-quarter points were a season high.
Trail Blazers: Portland won the first meeting between the teams 103-93 on Oct. 24. … Leonard had been booed following his last game, something that teammate Jusuf Nurkic had criticized. But when Leonard went to the bench in the fourth quarter with a season-high 15 points, fans cheered him.
HOME WOES: Portland is 7-6 at home this season, which is kind of unusual given the normally strong home-court advantage the Blazers have at the Moda Center.
“Yeah, we need to be better,” Stotts said. “If we want to be the team that we want to be, we have to be better at home. There’s no question.”
The Pelicans host the Golden State Warriors on Monday.
The Trail Blazers host the Washington Wizards on Tuesday.
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