Home Opener Streak Ends With Loss To Nuggets | Portland Trail Blazers
PORTLAND -- It was a great run while it lasted.
After winning an NBA-record 18-straight home openers, the Portland Trail Blazers were bested 108-100 by the Denver Nuggets in their first game of 2019-20 Wednesday night at the Moda Center.
"Well obviously, it's disappointing to lose a home opener," said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. "The other obvious thing is the three-point shot is the great equalizer. (Denver) shot it really well."
It's not often that the difference between winning and losing comes down to one factor, but such an argument could be made for three-point shooting in Wednesday night's game. The Nuggets shot 18-of-32 from three, with 11 of those coming in the second half, while the Trail Blazers managed to make just seven of their 28 attempts from deep.
"It's tough," said Trail Blazers forward Rodney Hood. "I think a lot of times we're helping, which is a good thing, but sometimes we over-help and teams make you pay for it. I'd rather people over-help than not help at all. We'll figure out what we need to do, sometimes we got caught sleeping. But I think we'll be better as the season goes along."
Even with the Nuggets bombing away from three, the Blazers still managed to hold an 88-87 lead with just under five minutes to play after Hassan Whiteside got an offensive rebound outback after a Damian Lillard missed three.
But back-to-back three-pointers from Denver center Nikola Jokic, who sat out most of there first half due to foul trouble, helped the Nuggets outscore Portland 21-11 in the final 4:44 to pull away for the eight-point victory.
"Beyond the threes, I think once it to maybe the five, four and a half minute mark where the game is going to be decided, I think we had too many lapses on both ends of the floor," said Lillard. "I had a pocket pass turnover, I missed a free throw, one one of their main actions with their two-man game, Jokic was going over the top and we talked about going over the top, he popped back, Whiteside going under, he popped back and hit a big three.
"So I think across the board, all of us included, when the game was being decided, we just had too many lapses on both ends of the floor and we put ourselves in a position where it was going to be hard to come back from it."
Damian Lillard led all scorers with 32 points on 10-of-21 shooting from the field, 3-of-10 shooting from three and 9-of-10 shooting from the line. It was the third time in his career that he scored at least 30 in a season opener. The 6-3 guard out of Weber State also added eight assists, four rebounds and a steam in 37 minutes.
Hassan Whiteside had a first-half double-double in his first regular season as a Trail Blazer before finishing with 16 points on 6-of-7 shooting from the field and 4-of-4 shooting from the line and 19 rebounds, the third-most by a Portland player in a season opener in franchise history, in 26 minutes. There 7-1 center also logged two blocks.
Rodney Hood shot 50 percent from the field to finish with 13 points to go with five rebounds. CJ McCollum struggled shooting from the field, going 5-of-18 from the field for 12 points.
Five Nuggets finished in double figures led by Nikola Jokic, who scored 16 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter. Will Barton added 19 points and Jamal Murray added 14 on 4-of-14 shooting.
* The Trail Blazers outrebounded the Nuggets, 48-45.
* The Trail Blazers outscored the Nuggets in the paint, 54-22.
* Portland finished with 23 second chance points while Denver had seven second chance points.
* The Trail Blazers shot 91.3% from the free-throw-line (21-of-23) while Denver shot 81.5% from the stripe (22-of-27).
* Portland was held to 7-of-28 shooting (25.0%) from the three-point-line while the Nuggets shot 18-of-32 from deep (56.3%).
"I loved what he did tonight. I think that's what we all had in mind when he came here. It's like that's the type of presence he was going to have - being able to guard Jokic one-on-one. I've never seen anybody guard him by themselves that well so consistently." -- Damian Lillard on Hassan Whiteside
With their home opener in the books, the Trail Blazers hit the road to play four-straight and six of their next seven starting with a Friday night tilt versus the Kings in Sacramento. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
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