The return of Anthony Davis has sparked a pair of victories for the New Orleans Pelicans just in time for an anticipated rematch against Portland.
The Trail Blazers, who mounted a late comeback in the first meeting, will try to prevent the Pelicans from winning three straight games for the first time Saturday night.
After briefly being sidelined with a chest injury, Davis scored 31 points Tuesday in a 119-111 win over Utah before putting up 30 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks Thursday to lead New Orleans (13-12) over Houston 99-90.
"Right now it's all about maturity and growing up as a team and realizing this is a moment, this is where we have to start growing up and learning how to win games," Davis said. "I think we did a good job of that (Thursday)."
Davis also reached the 30-point mark in a 102-93 loss at Portland on Nov. 17, a game in which the Pelicans wasted a 16-point lead late in the third quarter. They were outscored by the Blazers 34-13 in the fourth.
"They're just a really good team," Pelicans coach Monty Williams said after that loss. "They score in bunches. It's easy for us to say we had the game won. We didn't. We didn't play for 48 minutes, we played for about 40. They did what it took to win the game. Damian (Lillard) was really good in pick-and-roll."
Lillard, who had 24 points and seven assists in that contest, has been extraordinary during Portland's current four-game win streak, averaging 28.3 points and 5.8 assists. He scored a career-high 43 points Friday against San Antonio, though it took him three overtimes to get there in a 129-119 victory. He scored 16 after regulation.
"He's a tough competitor," Blazers coach Terry Stotts told the team's official website. "What he did in the third overtime, he carried us. Whether the shots are going or not, he's an extreme competitor."
Portland has also solicited major contributions from forward LaMarcus Aldridge, who has hauled in at least 14 rebounds in each of his last four games.
The Blazers rank as one of the best defensive teams in the NBA, allowing just 96.6 points per game. Williams hopes New Orleans can beat that defensive pressure through ball movement, although he admits that aspect of his team's offense is occasionally absent.
"Guys have a lot of confidence in their own ability," he said. "What we're trying to create is a synergy of that and doing what it takes to do what's best for the team."
Jrue Holiday has enjoyed a quality five-game stretch, dishing out 9.0 assists per contest in that span - an improvement over his 7.1 mark on the season - while Ryan Anderson has knocked down 17 of his last 35 3-point attempts.
Tyreke Evans sat out for New Orleans on Thursday and is questionable against Portland. He shot just 5 for 18 in the November loss to the Blazers.
Nicolas Batum could miss his second consecutive game for the Blazers after the seventh-year forward suffered a wrist injury Wednesday against Milwaukee.
Portland has taken nine of the last 12 meetings, the majority of which were low-scoring affairs. The Blazers have averaged 95.7 points in the series since 2012, while New Orleans has managed 94.0.