Trail Blazers Look To Extend Historic Home-Opening Win Streak By Hosting Pelicans

by Casey Holdahl
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After playing their first three games of the regular season on the road, the Portland Trail Blazers will open their 2017-18 home schedule with a chance to extend their historic win streak by hosting the New Orleans Pelicans Tuesday night at the Moda Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

The Trail Blazers have won their last 16 home openers, an NBA record, and will look to extend that streak to 17 wins with a victory Tuesday night. The last time the Trail Blazers lost a home opener was back in 2000, with the likes of Damon Stoudamire, Rasheed Wallace, Scottie Pippen and Bonzi Wells falling 96-86 on Halloween Night to the Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant led Lakers.

With the way the Trail Blazers (2-1) have played to start the 2017-18 season, there’s good reason to believe they’ve got a shot at extending their home opening streak despite dropping their last two contests to the Pelicans.

After beating the Phoenix Suns and Indiana Pacers in convincing fashion in their first two games of the season, the Trail Blazers are coming off a 113-110 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday. Despite Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum both finished the game with 26 points, was Bucks forward Giannis Antekounmpo who earned the victory for his team, scoring a career-high 44 points on 17-of-23 shooting.

“He’s a special player,” Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts said of Antekounmpo after the loss. “He gets to where he wants to go. He’s a strong right hand driver. He can finish around and get some good bounces to the rim. I thought our guys and whoever was on him worked hard, but he was pretty effective.”

The Trail Blazers were outscored 54-26 in terms of points in the paint during Saturday night’s loss in Milwaukee, an area that could also be of concern Wednesday night versus a Pelicans team featuring Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins. But just because Anthony and Davis are two of the best big men in the NBA doesn’t mean their offensive repertoires are confined to the painted area.

“They have two big scorers but the thing that’s difficult with Davis and Cousins is that they both are good perimeter players as well,” said Stotts after Monday’s practice in Tualatin. “They’re both shooting the three, good midrange jump shooters, they can have an impact in the paint. So even though they’re big they’re not prototypical big guys.”

The Pelicans (1-2) enter Tuesday’s game in Portland after notching their first win of the season, a 119-112 victory versus the Lakers at Staples Center Sunday night. Davis led all scorers with 27 points on 9-of-18 shooting to go with 17 rebounds, three assists, three steals and three blocks in 39 minutes.

The Trail Blazers are 10-5 against the Pelicans over the last four seasons, with the Trail Blazers going 7-1 at home against New Orleans in that span. The last time Portland hosted New Orleans in their opener, McCollum scored what was then a career-high 37 points to lead the Trail Blazers to a 112-94 victory on October 28, 2015.

Tuesday 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 Wheeler while the long-time radio voice of the team is on leave, and Michael Holton will have the radio call on Rip City Radio 620 AM and on all of the stations of the Trail Blazers Radio Network.