The Portland Trail Blazers just secured the largest margin of victory in an opener in NBA history, and they didn’t even have their second-best scorer available. The Trail Blazers will try to follow up a stunning performance and welcome CJ McCollum back from suspension when they visit the Indiana Pacers on Friday.
Portland cruised to a 124-76 win at the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday -- the second-largest margin of victory in franchise history -- while dominating the glass (57-33) and knocking down 14-of-24 from 3-point range but was already looking ahead after the game. “Probably don’t read too much into (the win) because it’s a long season,” Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts told reporters. “Obviously we’re pleased with it, but Indiana is a new day. You can’t rest on it. It’s a great way to start the season, particularly the manner in which we did it, but the next game is the next game.” The Pacers were impressive in their opener as well -- at least on the offensive end -- while putting eight scorers in double figures in a 140-131 triumph over the Brooklyn Nets. “It was a great first night and hopefully Pacers fans get a chance to see what we’re capable of and what type of basketball team we are,” Indiana guard Victor Oladipo told reporters. “Obviously, it wasn’t perfect and there are some things we want to get better and improve at; but it’s always great to get a win in the NBA.”
TV: 7 p.m. ET, NBCS Northwest (Portland), FS Indiana
ABOUT THE TRAIL BLAZERS (1-0): With McCollum serving a one-game suspension for coming off the bench during an altercation in a preseason game, reserve guard Pat Connaughton stepped up with a career-high 24 points. “For me, it was just about making sure I got into the flow of the game with a few easy baskets,” Connaughton told reporters. “It’s not something where I ever expected to be ‘feeling it.’ My teammates found me when I had open shots and I was trying to make sure I made plays for them to get them some easy baskets.” Connaughton hit 4-of-7 3-point attempts while star point guard Damian Lillard knocked down 4-of-6 from beyond the arc en route to a team-high 27 points.
ABOUT THE PACERS (1-0): Indiana made an effort in training camp to install a faster-paced offense that moved the ball more after trading away ball-stopping star Paul George, and the results were positive on opening night as three players scored 20 or more points and the team totaled 29 assists while shooting 52 percent from the floor. Point guard Darren Collison -- one of three new starters -- handed out 11 of those assists and scored 21 points on 9-of-12 shooting. “It was a good showing for us offensively,” Collison told reporters. “I think guys did a good job of doing exactly what Coach has been training us all summer to do, getting out on the break and being one of the best conditioned teams in the NBA. This early in the season you don’t usually see teams pushing the ball the way we did and we got out on the break and got some easy opportunities.”
1. Pacers C Al Jefferson (personal) missed the opener and is questionable for Friday.
2. Portland SG Evan Turner started in McCollum’s spot on Wednesday and scored 12 points on 4-of-8 shooting.
3. Indiana snapped a five-game losing streak in the series with a 118-111 home win in the last meeting on Dec. 16.
PREDICTION: Trail Blazers 125, Pacers 120