Streaks Preserved, Allen Honored In Opening Night Win Versus Lakers

by Casey Holdahl
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PORTLAND -- And the streaks continue.

The Portland Trail Blazers extended their winning streaks both in terms of home openers and in games against the Lakers while honoring late owner Paul Allen with a 128-119 victory in front of a sellout crowd 19,996 Thursday night at the Moda Center.

"It’s good to get another opening night win," said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. "Our bench was terrific. We withstood the kind of onslaught at the beginning of the game and I thought we played really good offensive basketball the rest of the night."

The Trail Blazers are now 1-0 on the season.

In the early going, it looked like the LeBron-led Lakers might be destined to end both of Portland's streaks after James threw down two ferocious dunks on back-to-back possessions for his first points of the game. With all the momentum and a significant number of fans in attendance cheering them on, the Lakers went up 25-15 midway through the first quarter after a James putback with 4:44 to play in the first quarter.

But even with LeBron, the Lakers weren't prepared for the force of nature that was Nik Stauskas. A little over a minute after subbing in for Lillard with 2:18 to play in the first quarter, Stauskas made his first three-pointer off an assist from Meyers Leonard. A minute later, another Stauskas three, again thanks to a helper from Leonard, to give Portland a 34-31 lead going into the second quarter.

But a quick break in the action between quarters couldn't cool the Canadian national. Less than a minute into the quarter, he made a layup, then a 22-foot pullup, then a deep three-pointer and then, a few minutes later, another three. All told, Stauskas would make his first six shots from the field, including his first four from three, all in roughly six minutes of play.

"I think in that first half just most of my shots felt great," said Stauskas, who is playing for his fourth team in as many season. "Meyers got me open on two good looks in that first quarter. As a shooter, you get two good looks to go down, things kind of start opening up after that so I just tried to be aggressive and my teammates did a good job of finding me.”

But while he wasn't quite as open as Stauskas, Lakers guard Josh Hart was just as efficient, going 4-of-4 from the field for nine points in the second quarter. With Stauskas and Hart cancelling each other out, the Lakers managed to cut Portland's lead to 65-63 by the intermission.

After playing to a duel in the third quarter, the Trail Blazers came out hot to start the fourth quarter behind the play of Lillard and McCollum, two of the most prolific fourth-quarter scorers in the NBA last season. With the starting backcourt combining for 20 points on 6-of-9 shooting and Stauskas pitching in another eight points, five of those coming from the free throw line, the Trail Blazers were able to build a 13-point lead, their largest of the night, before holding off a barrage of Lakers three-pointers to come away with the nine-point victory.

"We just wanted to get the season started off on the right foot," said Lillard. "We got a great punch from the bench. Nik had a huge game, E.T. had a really good game, Moe came in and really gave us something. It was really a team effort. I thought we did a great job of just staying there, even with all the energy they brought into the game and all the Lakers’ fans out there to start the game. I thought we did a great job just staying calm, weathering the storm and taking over the game.”

TOP SCORERS

Damian Lillard led all scorers with 28 points on 9-of-21 shooting from the field, 2-of-7 shooting from three and 8-of-8 shooting from the free throw line to go with six rebounds and four assists in 35 minutes. Lillard has now scored at least 20 points in his last 11 games versus the Lakers.

Nik Stauskas put up a career-high in his first game as a Trail Blazers, going 7-of-11 from the field, 5-of-8 from three and 5-of-5 from the line for 24 points in 27 minutes. Stauskas made his first six shots and his first four three-pointers in Thursday's contest to lead Portland in the second quarter.

CJ McCollum added 21 points and five rebounds. Evan Turner went for 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting and Zach Collins finished +24 with six points, six rebounds and a career-high six blocks in 26 minutes.

LeBron James led the Lakers with 26 points, 12 rebounds and six assists in 37 minutes. Second-year guard Josh Hart scored 20 points off the bench.

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NOTABLE

• The Trail Blazers won their 18th consecutive home opener, extending the longest streak in NBA history (14, Boston, 1779-92).

• Portland beat the Lakers for the 16th straight time. That matches the second-longest winning streak over any opponent in franchise history (17, LA Clippers, 1986-89).

• Portland’s bench outscored their Los Angeles counterparts, 55-46.

• The Trail Blazers made 13 three-pointers (of 37, 35.1%) while the Lakers made seven three pointers (of 30, 23.3%).

• Portland out-rebounded the Lakers, 54-46. The Trail Blazers had 14 offensive rebounds which led to 21 second chance points.

• Both teams attempted 29 free throws. Portland made 27 (93.1%) while the Lakers made 22 (75.9%).

QUOTABLE

"I really loved what (Collins) did defensively. I think losing Ed [Davis], in that second group we need somebody that’s going to be an enforcer and let teams know that you’re not going to just be able to come in our paint and get fouled and just get easy layups. He had some big blocks. He challenged everything. It’s great to see that he’s taking that up a level." -- Damian Lillard on the play of center Zach Collins

NEXT UP

The Trail Blazers play the second of a three-game, season-opening homestand by hosting the new-look San Antonio Spurs Saturday night. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m on NBC Sports Northwest and Rip City Radio 620 AM.

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