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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.
- 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:
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:
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:
He also displayed his ability to run the floor and finish offensively:
It was enough to show off his potential for the Pelicans:
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.
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.