It wasn’t as easy as it should have been. After a slow start, Portland put together a complete second quarter where it built a 16-point halftime lead that looked like the beginning of an easy and relaxing night, only for it to evaporate almost instantly in the third.
The Hornets refused to die, and behind Devonte’ Graham and Terry Rozier, took the Blazers down to the wire, where Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum managed to out-clutch their younger yet impressive counterparts.
Lillard led all scorers with 30 points and added 9 assists, while McCollum scored 27. Anthony Tolliver had easily his best game of the season, double-doubling off the bench (16 points, 11 rebounds), getting important buckets down the stretch and even earning the walkoff interview.
Bienvenue à la maison. It’s been almost five years since he last wore a Blazer uniform, but Nicolas Batum remains Portland’s favorite Frenchman. He checked in midway through the first quarter to a reasonable ovation, and although his production is far from the Nico of old, he still acquitted himself well with 9 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals.
Young guns. A lot of people thought Charlotte would morph back into the Bobcats when Kemba Walker shipped up to Boston back in July, but there’s reason for optimism. Rozier (25 points, 7 boards) has been a nice consolation prize and second-year Graham (27 points, 10 assists) has been a revelation - the two went toe-to-toe with Dame and CJ all night and almost were able to pull the upset.
The Blazers get a day off before they head to Houston to take on the Rockets.