Lillard leads Blazers past Pelicans 122-110
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — In a game marked by milestones, it was Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers who had the most to celebrate.
Lillard scored 24 points and became the second-leading scorer in franchise history as Portland defeated the New Orleans Pelicans 122-110 on Friday night.
Lillard passed LaMarcus Aldridge (12,562) on the team's list, giving him 12,584 and leaving only Clyde Drexler ahead of him with 18,040.
"To move up the list with such a great organization, so many great players that came before me and to move up again is an honor," Lillard said. "One more person to go."
C.J. McCollum added 23 points, and Enes Kanter and Rodney Hood each had 17 points for the Trail Blazers, who improved to 8-3 since the All-Star break. Zach Collins scored 12 points and Jusuf Nurkic had 11 points and 12 rebounds as Portland handed New Orleans its fifth consecutive loss despite impressive performances by a couple of Pelicans.
"Zach came off the bench and did a great job defensively," Portland coach Terry Stotts said. "Rodney made some big plays down at the end that were important."
New Orleans' Julius Randle had a career-high 45 points and 11 rebounds, falling four assists short of a triple-double. Elfrid Payton had his third consecutive triple-double, finishing with 14 points, 12 rebounds and a career-high 16 assists.
Payton has played in just 31 games in his first season with the Pelicans because of a multiple injuries
"I think I have a good feel for where my teammates like the ball for the most part," Payton said. "It's just so unfortunate that I've missed so many games this year, so I'm just trying to finish strong."
Frank Jackson added 16 points and Jahlil Okafor had 10 for the Pelicans, who made just 12 of 25 free throws.
The Pelicans led by one point at halftime, but Lillard and McCollum led the way as the Blazers had a 66-point second half.
"When they needed the big shots," New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry said, "Damian and C.J. made them."
Portland took an 87-82 lead at the end of the third quarter and pushed the lead to eight early in the fourth.
Payton's 3-pointer pulled the New Orleans within three points at 102-99 midway through the period, but McCollum, Lillard and Hood each made a 3-pointer as Portland took a 115-103 lead with 3:51 left.
New Orleans took a 37-30 lead after one quarter, but cooled off in the second. The Pelicans scored just 20 second-quarter points as the Blazers closed within a point at 57-56 at halftime.
Blazers: The Blazers clinched a winning season and improved to .500 on the road (17-17). ... Portland, which was swept by New Orleans in a first-round playoff series last season, completed a three-game sweep of the regular-season series. ... Hood made his first start since being acquired in trade with Cleveland on Feb. 4, filling in for injured Maurice Harkless.
Pelicans: G Jrue Holiday (abdominal strain) and F E'Twaun Moore (quad contusion) each missed their fourth consecutive games and coach Alvin Gentry said it's unlikely either will return this season. ... Randle set his career high for points in a quarter when he scored 21 in the first period.
DAVIS WELL RESTED
Pelicans All-Star F Anthony Davis did not play Friday and the official reason for his absence was "rest." New Orleans has been restricting Davis' minutes and holding him out of one game of each set of back-to-back games since he requested a trade in late January. He's expected to play against Phoenix on Saturday.
Blazers: visits San Antonio on Saturday.
Pelicans: hosts Phoenix on Saturday.