Williamson, Pelicans bury Blazers
The New Orleans Pelicans, led by 19-year-old rookie Zion Williamson, turned around the game with a third-quarter surge and beat the visiting Trail Blazers 138-117 on Tuesday night.
New Orleans won the third quarter 41-21 to take a dominating lead, then was never headed down the stretch.
Williamson, the No. 1 overall draft pick out of Duke, finished with a career- and game-high 31 points plus nine rebounds in 27 minutes. He was 10 of 17 from the field and 11 of 14 from free-throw line.
Off the bench, shooting guard JJ Redick added 20 points for the Pelicans, who improved to 23-31. Starting guard Jrue Holiday had 16 points and a game-best 10 assists. Small forward Josh Hart scored 17 points.
Portland got 20 points apiece from guards Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, who each played only 29 minutes as their team fell to 25-30.
Lillard failed to make a 3-pointer, going 0 for 4 in a 7-for-29 night by Portland from beyond the arc. He did not play in the fourth quarter. McCollum was 4 of 8 on 3's.
The Blazers slipped three games behind eighth-place Memphis (27-26) in their battle for the final playoff spot in the NBA Western Conference.
Also for Portland, Carmelo Anthony scored 18 points and Hassan Whiteside had 17 points and a game-high 14 rebounds.
Portland led by as many as 16 points in the first half and by 65-53 at the half.
Four Blazers scored in double digits, with McCollum at 15 points, Anthony 14, Whiteside 12 (with 13 rebounds) and Lillard 10 (4 of 11 from the field and 0 of 2 on 3-pointers).
The 6-6, 285-pound Williamson had 17 points (6 of 9 from the floor) and five rebounds in 16 first-half minutes as the starting power forward.
Portland was 4 of 14 from beyond the arc; New Orleans was 7 of 20. The Blazers had a 38-28 lead in points in the paint, with Whiteside, Anthony and small forward Trevor Ariza combining to make 15 of 22 shots from the field.
The Pelicans got into transition after missed Blazer shots an dopened up an 88-78 lead midway through the third quarter. A few minutes later, the lead was 97-80. The difference grew to 104-83 late in the quarter and was 104-86 at the end of the frame.
Williasmson went to the bench with 6:23 remaining and New Orleans on top 121-95.
The Blazers now go to Memphis for a 5 p.m. PT Wednesday showdown with the Grizzlies, before returning home after the All-Star Game break to face New Orleans at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 21.
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