Jrue Holiday, Pelicans Spoil Carmelo Anthony’s Trail Blazers Debut with Win


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Layne Murdoch Jr./Getty Images

The return of Brandon Ingram helped fuel the New Orleans Pelicans to a 115-104 win over the Portland Trail Blazers.

New Orleans was still missing several key players, including Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart, but Ingram was back in the lineup Tuesday after missing four games with a knee injury. He came through with 21 points, seven rebounds and five assists in front of the home crowd at Smoothie King Center, leading the Pelicans (5-9) to their first two-game win streak of the season.

Jrue Holiday also took care of business with 22 points and 10 assists as New Orleans pulled away in the second half after trailing by one at intermission.

Carmelo Anthony made his debut for the Trail Blazers (5-10) and managed 10 points in 24 minutes after a year away from the NBA, but his contributions couldn’t overcome the absence of Damian Lillard, who was out with back spasms.

Notable Stats

  • CJ McCollum, G, Trail Blazers: 22 points, 5 assists
  • Carmelo Anthony, F, Trail Blazers: 10 points, 4 rebounds
  • Hassan Whiteside, C, Trail Blazers: 14 points, 14 rebounds
  • Brandon Ingram, F, Pelicans: 21 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals
  • Jrue Holiday, G, Pelicans: 22 points 10 assists, 5 rebounds
  • Jaxson Hayes, C, Pelicans: 9 points, 7 rebounds, 2 steals, 3 blocks

Carmelo Struggles After Quick Start in Debut

Most of the focus in this game was on Anthony, who was trying to show he deserved a spot in the NBA after more than a year since his last appearance.

He got the start and was involved early, scoring Portland’s first points on an open three before tallying seven points in the first half:

NBA @NBA

Melo drops 7 PTS in his first half of 🏀 in 2019-20! #RipCity

Catch the 2nd half on @NBATV https://t.co/ZU1rRALzzW

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Vintage Melo. https://t.co/6VLnPc5YqW

Anthony added one three-pointer in the second half as his minutes declined.

Unfortunately, the forward also showed exactly why teams were so hesitant to sign him. Most notably, he struggled defensively:

Dan Devine @YourManDevine

[Melo drives the closeout and hits a one-dribble pull-up]

“Hey, Melo looks like Melo!”

[Melo just points a lot on defense, completely loses Kenrich Williams, slips trying to get out to him, he hits a wide-open 3]

“Hey, Melo looks like Melo!”

Chris Herring @Herring_NBA

This is Melo, for better and worse, at times

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

UPDATE: At halftime, Portland is -12 with Melo on the floor and +13 with him off. Last season with Houston, Anthony was a minus player in the first half in 9 of his 10 games… in total, he was -69 in the first half last year with the Rockets.

Nate Duncan @NateDuncanNBA

Melo is trying a little harder defensively, but to no one’s surprise he doesn’t have it on that end. He just tried to either go under or switch a screen when he got caught on Holiday, who drills the 3.

He finished minus-20 on the court while his inefficiency was also present with a 4-of-14 shooting performance and five turnovers.

Rust could be a factor in his first game of the year, and you have to be careful about jumping to conclusions. But Anthony didn’t exactly resemble a 10-time All-Star on the floor.

CJ McCollum picked up a lot of the slack, running the show offensively while almost single-handedly keeping the Blazers in the game. However, it wasn’t enough to make a difference for a team playing without its best player.

Jaxson Hayes Shines in Second Career Start

Ingram filled up the stat sheet in his return, but Pelicans fans should really be excited about the play of Jaxson Hayes on Tuesday.

The 2019 No. 8 overall pick has been overshadowed by fellow rookie Zion Williamson since draft day, but he contributed his first double-double in Sunday’s win over the Golden State Warriors and had another strong effort against Portland.

He was especially impressive on the defensive end with two steals and three blocks, turning heads with a few of his rejections:

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Melo tried to throw it down on Jaxson Hayes 😅 https://t.co/fmm1JnBp3x

New Orleans Pelicans @PelicansNBA

Jaxson SHUT DOWN the first half!

#WontBowDown https://t.co/tenqGWVOO6

He also displayed his ability to run the floor and finish offensively:

NBA TV @NBATV

Jrue finds Jaxson from halfcourt! 👀

#WontBowDown https://t.co/8IWIyxIbbd

It was enough to show off his potential for the Pelicans:

Kristian Winfield @Krisplashed

Jaxson Hayes is gonna be an absolute problem

Joseph Bien-Kahn @jbienkahn

Jaxson Hayes is gonna be a starter for a long time

Nick Moyle @NRMoyle

Jaxson Hayes doin some damage vs the Blazers right now. When he gets stronger he’s gonna be an absolute problem. Dude doesn’t stop workin on the court

The 19-year-old is still a raw player, and he played sparingly in the second half as Nicolo Melli played a major role. His minutes will likely continue to fluctuate throughout the year.

Still, Hayes is making a positive impact just 11 games into his career. Combine him with all the other top young players on the roster and this is an exciting team going forward. 

What’s Next?

The Trail Blazers will continue their six-game road trip with a difficult matchup against the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday. The Pelicans will also travel Thursday to face the Phoenix Suns.

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