The Portland Trail Blazers opened their season 1-0 in their win against the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Portland Trail Blazers season opener at home resulted in a 128-119 win over the Los Angeles Lakers as the bench led the way, then CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard stepped up to close the game late in the fourth quarter.
McCollum scored five straight points to extend Portland’s lead to 114-1104 with 5:02 left in the fourth. Nik Stauskas and Lillard sealed the game with their late free throws to give them their first home win of the season.
Stauskas’ performance in this game was unexpected, but, it was a treat. Stauskas led the Trail Blazers’ bench in scoring with a career-high 24 points on 7-11 field goals while shooting 62.5 percent from three-point range in a standout performance.
Both McCollum and Lillard could not make any outside shots through three quarters, but they got their groove from the three-point line in the fourth quarter. They were a combined 5-13 from the three but had good showings overall.
Lillard finished the game, leading the Trail Blazers in scoring with 28 points, six rebounds, and four assists. McCollum followed suit and finished the game with 21 points, five rebounds, and one assist.
The game flow early was fast-paced for both teams with highlights that rocked the Moda Center. The Trail Blazers and Lakers traded dunks at the start of the first quarter which started off with a JaVale McGee slam that was followed by LeBron James and Lillard’s respective running dunks in transition.
In James’ Los Angeles Lakers debut, he had himself a game. He finished the game with 26 points and 12 rebounds. Even on the road, James was welcomed to the court with cheers by fans in Portland.
James’ play for the Lakers, helped spearhead the offense at times in transition.
JaVale McGee also had a good showing in his Lakers debut as well. Starting early in the game, McGee brought some energy in the paint for Los Angeles that lasted all throughout the contest in his time on the court. He finished the game with 13 points, eight rebounds, and three blocks.
McGee made a cutting slam dunk to bring them within five towards the middle of the fourth quarter at 104-109. Many of McGee’s highlights in the game showed how well he would further fit with this Lakers team this season.
Josh Hart also had a stellar performance to start his sophomore season off the bench. He posted 20 points, four points, and three steals, and two blocks in the game.
The Lakers kept up with the Trail Blazers throughout the game, but their outside shooting greatly hurt them. At one point in the second quarter, the Lakers were 0-8 from the three-point line. They finished the game 7-30 from the line on a 23.3 three-point percentage.
The Lakers also could not get themselves on the offensive boards. Portland outrebounded them 14-8 in the game. Los Angeles was also loose on defense during various times in the game and could not get defensive stops. Late in the third quarter, the Lakers allowed the Trail Blazers to go on an 8-0 run.
There were some good points in the game with many individual plays and spurts that the Lakers had. Hart blocked a McCollum shot from behind, then scored a three-pointer to get the Lakers within 10 when it was 2:29 left in the game.
This Lakers team will be fun to watch this season as they play a fast-paced game and have players who are capable to put on a good show for fans.
Los Angeles will play the Houston Rockets at Staples Center on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. PT on ESPN as it will be James’ regular-season debut at home.