The Portland Trail Blazers gave another tantalizing glimpse of their potential tonight, as CJ McCollum torched the New Orleans Pelicans, carrying the Blazers to a fairly easy victory. Portland, who led by 30 at one point, left New Orleans unprepared for their potent back-court and balanced front-court. If this game is a sign of the season to come, many basketball analysts will end up with egg on their faces.
The Blazers were led by McCollum's huge 37 points on 6-9 from three, plus 6 rebounds. Damian Lillard had a tough shooting night, but still finished with 21 points and 11 assists. And Ed Davis took care of the dirty work against Anthony Davis, adding 12 points and 11 rebounds to counter Davis' 25 points and 10 rebounds.
McCollum took control in the first quarter, and suddenly everything looked easy for the Blazers. Al-Farouq Aminu opened the game by sinking a three-pointer, and the shots rained down from everywhere. Before the Pelicans knew what hit them, the Blazer lead was double digits, and McCollum burned the nets. He hit five three-pointers for 22 points just in the first quarter, and opened up the game for every other player. Portland led by an incredible 25 points after the first, nearly matching the score of the legendary "Perfect Quarter" against the Spurs.
Portland 43, New Orleans 18
It seemed like there was nowhere to go but down in the second quarter, and it didn't take long for the Pelicans to make a run. They cut the lead to 16, but that was all they could muster. Portland went on a run led by Lillard and Meyers Leonard, pushing the lead to an eye-popping 29 points, settling for a 27 point lead heading into the locker room. The Blazers shot 27-50 from the field in the first half, out-rebounded the Pelicans 33-20, and won the points in the paint, 34-16. This was a first-half burial.
Portland 70, New Orleans 43
New Orleans came out of the locker room hungry after a humiliating first half. Anthony Davis and Eric Gordon controlled the offense, and the Pelicans defense left the Blazers cold, missing every shot for 4 straight minutes late in the quarter. Only Aminu made more than one shot in the quarter for the Blazers, who grasped their lead and found ways to score whenever they could. Portland was outscored 24-17 in the quarter, but were left in a promising position.
Portland 87, New Orleans 67
As the fourth quarter opened, the Pelicans clearly knew they needed to make a run quickly. They scored on their first five possessions, pulling to within 13 points on Davis' back-to-back three-pointers with 7 minutes left. He followed that with a layup to cut the lead to 11. Blazers coach Terry Stotts called timeout with just over 6 minutes left. Lillard tried to put the team on his back and missed shot after shot, while Anthony Davis hit a third three-pointer to cut the lead to 8. McCollum hit a long two to restore a double-digit lead with three minutes left, then added another three-pointer to seal another big opening-night win for the Blazers.
The Blazers get a day off and will travel to Phoenix, where they play the Suns Friday night. In the meantime, stay tuned to Blazer's Edge for social media coverage, and Dave Deckard's analysis later tonight.
It's a wrap: #Blazers beat NO 112-94. CJ had a career-high 37 pts, Dame had 21 pts, 11 asts, Davis had 12 pts, 11 rbs.— Joe Freeman (@BlazerFreeman) October 29, 2015
Trail Blazers defeat Pelicans 112-94 behind career-high 37 Pts from C.J. McCollum. Damian Lillard: 21 Pts, 11 Ast. pic.twitter.com/Hibyn4QrWJ— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) October 29, 2015
No one in the history of professional basketball has won more consecutive home openers than the Portland Trail Blazers.— Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) October 29, 2015
CJ McCollum has 37 points, the second most in Blazers history on opening night. Kiki Vandeweghe scored 47 in 1984 against Kansas City— Jason Quick (@jwquick) October 29, 2015
'@CJMcCollum, on his 22-point 1st quarter: "Felt just like a caged animal, ready to be unleashed. The basket seemed to get bigger & bigger."— kerry eggers (@kerryeggers) October 29, 2015
Just wanted to say I'm proud of my bro @CJMcCollum what a game!!!— Tim Frazier (@psufraz23) October 29, 2015
Ed Davis is the first Trail Blazer to record a double-double off the bench in a season opener since Kenny Carr on Oct. 25, 1985.— Trail Blazers PR (@TrailBlazersPR) October 29, 2015
The Trail Blazers have now won each of their last six games against the Pelicans, the longest win streak by either team in series history.— Trail Blazers PR (@TrailBlazersPR) October 29, 2015
The last seven players with 37+ points and 6+ rebounds in a season opener are Bryant, James, Anthony, Harden, Durant, Curry and now McCollum— Trail Blazers PR (@TrailBlazersPR) October 29, 2015
Appreciate you Bruh. 900 treys tom https://t.co/VqNi7yrHik— CJ McCollum (@CJMcCollum) October 29, 2015
"That was phenomenal, it was quite an exhibition" - Stotts on CJs first quarter.— Brandon Sprague (@BrandonSprague) October 29, 2015
"I forgot he had a hamstring injury. I was supposed to keep an eye on his minutes and I forgot about it" - Stotts on Aminu— Brandon Sprague (@BrandonSprague) October 29, 2015
"This gonna be a team that's uplifting, full of energy" - Plumlee's thoughts after the game.— Brandon Sprague (@BrandonSprague) October 29, 2015
"We think we have a chance to surprise some people but we know it's an everyday process to get better" - Meyers— Brandon Sprague (@BrandonSprague) October 29, 2015
"We all came out hungry. We all came out looking to prove something and you can credit the coaching staff" - CJ McCollum— Brandon Sprague (@BrandonSprague) October 29, 2015
"It was a long time coming for me man. I worked so hard for this moment." - McCollum on his emotion at the end of the first quarter.— Brandon Sprague (@BrandonSprague) October 29, 2015
McCollum said it was Norris Cole talking to him from the bench. Asked what Cole said, "Good D!" McCollum said he told him "better O" back.— Brandon Sprague (@BrandonSprague) October 29, 2015
Good win tonight team #ripcity— Cliff Alexander (@CAlexander) October 29, 2015
Prayers up, blessings down. Thank you. #RipCity— CJ McCollum (@CJMcCollum) October 29, 2015