Trail Blazers And Pacers Meet After Impressive Season-Opening Victories

by Casey Holdahl
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INDIANAPOLIS -- The Portland Trail Blazers reach the midway point of a three-game, season-opening road trip Thursday night with a Friday night tilt versus the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Tipoff is scheduled for 4 p.m.

Both teams enter Friday night’s game after posting impressive victories in their respective season openers.

The Trail Blazers set the NBA record for largest margin of victory in an Opening Night game by beating the Phoenix Suns 124-76 at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Portland held Phoenix to 32 percent shooting from the field and 26 percent shooting from three, turning what was supposed to be a celebration of the Suns’ 50th season into a 48-point blowout and their worst loss in franchise history.

Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard shot 50 percent from the field and 4-of-6 from three to finish with 27 points, five rebounds and five assists in 30 minutes. Pat Connaughton, forced into early duty by foul trouble, posted a career-high of 24 points on 9-of-14 shooting in 32 minutes. Connaughton’s play was especially timely with starting shooting guard CJ McCollum sitting due to a one-game suspension.

Jusuf Nurkić added a double-double of 11 points and 11 rebounds in 23 minutes. Evan Turner, Ed Davis and Shabazz Napier also finished Wednesday’s victory having scored in double figures.

As for the Pacers, they began their 2017-18 campaign by topping the Brooklyn Nets 140-131 Wednesday night at Bankers Life. Indiana’s 140 points were the most the team has ever scored in a season opener and it’s the first time they hit the 140-point mark since November 9, 2010.

Victor Oladipo, acquired ]along with Domantis Sabonis as a part of the trade that sent Paul George to Oklahoma City, shot 50 percent from the field to finish with 22 points in his Pacers debut. Third-year center Myles Turner posted a double-double of 21 points and 14 rebounds to go with four blocks and two assists in 34 minutes.

Though a road game, Friday’s contest is a homecoming of sorts for many players on Portland’s roster, including forward Caleb Swanigan, who was born in Indianapolis, went to high school in Fort Wayne and played two year of college ball at Purdue.

“It’s cool and all but I don’t take it personally right now because right now it’s the basketball season,” said Swanigan of playing his first professional game in his home state. “It’s all business for us right now.”

After missing the opener due to suspension, Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum is expected to play and start Friday night. Zach Collins has been upgraded to probable after sitting out the Suns game with gastroenteritis.

Friday night’s game can be seen locally on NBC Sports Northwest with Kevin Calabro, Lamar Hurd and Brooke Olzendam. Scott Lynn, who is filling in for Brian Wheel while he is on a leave of absence, and Casey Holdahl will have the radio call on Rip City Radio 620 AM starting at 4 p.m.