Pelicans (34-48), Trail Blazers (41-41)
PORTLAND – In a tweet promoting its Wednesday NBA doubleheader, ESPN used a photo of Jrue Holiday to represent New Orleans, while going with third-string point guard Shabazz Napier for Portland. That pretty accurately summed up the approach to the season finale for the Trail Blazers, who rested an array of well-known players, letting their backups and seldom-used youngsters log prominent minutes. Meanwhile, the Pelicans sat both Anthony Davis (knee) and DeMarcus Cousins (Achilles).
Despite not having its two best players, New Orleans rallied from an 11-point second-half deficit to overtake Portland, ending a five-game losing streak, as well as a multi-year, 11-game skein in Moda Center. The club had never won in Oregon as the “Pelicans.”
IT WAS OVER WHEN…
Down three, Portland’s Tim Quarterman missed two free throws with 5.2 seconds left, the second intentionally, but New Orleans eventually collected the ball after a scramble, running out the final seconds. Pelicans rookie guard Quinn Cook sank two free throws with 6.3 seconds left to give the visitors a 103-100 edge. New Orleans had fouled Quarterman on purpose, preventing the Trail Blazers from a look at a three-point shot.
PELICANS PLAYER OF THE GAME
Jordan Crawford wrapped up the season in style, capping his quality month-plus in a New Orleans uniform with 15 points on 6/12 shooting, including making several key plays in the fourth quarter. Crawford sank a mid-range jumper and a three-pointer in the final period, while also coming up with a defensive stop with 10 seconds left. With the Pelicans up 101-100, Meyers Leonard tried to post up Crawford, but instead booted the ball out of bounds for a turnover caused partly by Crawford’s defense.
PELICANS UNSUNG CONTRIBUTOR
Rookie power forward Cheick Diallo reached double-digit rebounds for the second time in as many nights and used his energy and activity to make valuable contributions. The 20-year-old Kansas product grabbed a career-best 16 boards against Portland, after pulling down 11 at the Lakers on Tuesday. Diallo also deposited 12 points, including eight in the decisive final period.
QUOTES TO NOTE
“We got experience. There is nothing like game experience, no matter how much you are around it. You’ve got to get in the game to see how fast it is, the spacing. Cheick after his first game (at Denver last Friday), he really got comfortable playing and the last two (games) was big for us.” – Crawford on WRNO 99.5 FM postgame radio, explaining what the Pelicans got out of the recent stretch of games
“A lot of the locker-room talks have been how we need to approach next season. We’ve had a lot of that.” – Crawford looking ahead to the summer offseason
“Any time we can give (Diallo) extended minutes in an NBA-type situation, that’s really good for him. If you take the performance he had (last night) and add this to the mix, that’s two consistent ones. He came back tonight and did it again.” – Alvin Gentry on Diallo’s second straight good performance
“Tough season. Not anything we anticipated. But once again we started a season with players we did not anticipate counting on at that particular time. Obviously the Jrue (Holiday early-season family leave) was a big factor, and there is not anything anyone can do about that.” – Gentry responding to a Portland reporter asking to sum up the Pelicans’ season
BY THE NUMBERS
25-15: New Orleans scoring advantage in the fourth quarter. Diallo, Cook and Crawford combined to tally 19 of the 25 Pelicans points.
13: New Orleans steals on defense, topped by three from Donatas Motiejunas.
6: Portland players in double-digit scoring, led by Napier’s 25 points. The Trail Blazers also shot 48.2 percent from the field and 43.3 percent on treys, but were hurt by a whopping 25 turnovers. Going 5/13 on free throws also was problematic.