NEW ORLEANS — Anthony Davis sat at his locker, his white knit shirt draping over his shoulders as sweat still beaded down his forehead.
It should have been a good post-game session for the Pelicans’ second-year All-Star forward. He had just poured in a career-high 36 points. He nearly had a double-double, falling just one rebound short.
But his focus couldn’t have been further from his individual achievement. Basketball is a team sport, even if a few superstars can bring their team a win on any given night.
Friday night was all set up for that to Davis.
Instead, it was Portland’s All-Star Damian Lillard, who scored 16 of his 27 points in the final six minutes, pushing New Orleans to its second straight loss, this time a 111-103 setback.
“I don’t care about that,” Davis said of his personal record. “I only care about winning. We lost so all that is just for you guys.”
The losing, especially by way of blown fourth-quarter leads, is now a thing for New Orleans (26-39) and Davis.
Friday night, just like two nights earlier against Memphis, came down to the Pelicans not competing for the full 48 minutes. Thirty-six? Sure. But 48? Nope.
“Yeah. I mean, we play good for three quarters and then the fourth quarter two games in a row we weren’t able to get stops,” Davis said. “We just got to do a better job.”
They could only watch as Lillard put on a show for his teammates, including LaMarcus Aldridge, the All-Star forward who sat out with a lower back contusion.
His personal 7-0 run, part of a 9-0 three-minute stretch by Portland (43-23), turned the game on its head.
Lillard did what he wanted, getting to the basket or to his left side when he tried.
“The game was on the line, so I needed to step up,” Lillard said. “Maybe the shots wouldn't have fallen but I knew needed to step up and be aggressive and make something happen.”
Lillard averaged 16 points against New Orleans in his rookie season. He’s even better as a sophomore, now averaging 28.3 points against the Pelicans this season.
“We just didn’t execute that well,” Pelicans coach Monty Williams said. “We’ve played against him a number of times the past two years so you’ve got to know what to expect.”
But he only was in position to do what he did thanks to New Orleans’ inability to guard the 3-point line. Actually, it was more about Portland’s ability to find the open player, smoothly transitioning the ball around the floor, to get the makeable 3-point shot.
The Blazers hit 14 of them, or three more than New Orleans attempted and 11 more than the Pelicans made.
“They just went in tonight,” Lillard said. “I thought we had a lot of really good looks tonight. The biggest thing with our team is to just keep shooting the ball. We got a lot of really good shooters and we just got to keep shooting it.”
Still, for New Orleans, Friday night was as much about Davis’ continuing breakout run as it was the team’s inability to guard the three-ball.
Davis tied a franchise record for most consecutive games with at least 28 points at five in a row. He fell one rebound short of his fifth-consecutive double-double, which would have been a career-best streak.
“He’s showing the player that he is, can be and will be,” Pelicans guard Brian Roberts said. “When he’s aggressive and just focused and locked in, that’s the kind of production you’re going to get, night in and night out.
“He understands that now. He’s his level of talent. He’s carrying us.”