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CJ McCollum picks on ex-mates as Pelicans pound Blazers

Apr 7, 2022; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Pelicans center Willy Hernangomez (9) battles for position against Portland Trail Blazers forward Reggie Perry (10) during the second quarter at Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports

CJ McCollum scored 23 points to lead six New Orleans scorers in double figures as the host Pelicans routed the Portland Trail Blazers 127-94 on Thursday night.

Willy Hernangomez had 17 points and 14 rebounds for New Orleans, and Jonas Valanciunas, returning from a one-game absence caused by a sore ankle, added 14 points.

Trey Murphy III and Larry Nance Jr., who was acquired along with McCollum from Portland in a February trade, had 12 each, and Jaxson Hayes scored 11 as the Pelicans overcame the absence of leading scorer Brandon Ingram (hamstring tightness).

The Pelicans (36-44) completed a three-game season series sweep of the Blazers (27-53), who lost their ninth straight game to fall to 2-19 since the All-Star break. The slump includes a 117-107 loss to visiting New Orleans on March 30.

Drew Eubanks scored 20 points, CJ Elleby added 17, Reggie Perry had 15 and former Pelican Didi Louzada scored 11 for the Blazers.

Up by 13 at halftime, the Pelicans began their third-quarter scoring with a three-point play by Hayes and a four-point play by Devonte’ Graham that gave them a 72-54 lead.

Eubanks scored four points, but McCollum answered with a 3-pointer and Herbert Jones Jr. added two free throws as New Orleans increased the lead to 79-58.

The Pelicans led by as many as 26 points before holding a 101-76 edge at the end of the third quarter.

In the first quarter, the lead changed hands nine times and the score was tied four times before the Pelicans finished the period with a push.

McCollum and Murphy each made a 3-pointer as New Orleans took a 33-28 lead after 12 minutes.

The Pelicans scored the first seven points of the second quarter, but the Blazers scored the next five to trim the gap to 40-33.

Portland got within seven points once more before New Orleans scored seven straight for a 49-35 lead.

Jones’ layup gave the Pelicans their biggest lead of the half at 15 points before they took a 65-52 lead into halftime.

–Field Level Media