Everything went right for the Portland Trail Blazers, and the Blazers themselves had a lot to do with that.
Final score: Blazers 124, Phoenix Suns 76 in the season-opener for both teams.
If you’re the Blazers, this is how you start the season on the road. Oh, except for the fact you were without starting shooting guard C.J. McCollum — suspended for leaving the bench during a fracas in the preseason.
But no worries. Damian Lillard did his thing by scoring 27 points and Pat Connaughton did McCollum’s thing by scoring 24.
Yes, that’s how this game went. Connaughton had a career-high 24 points off the bench.
For the Blazers, the 48-point victory was the largest in franchise history.
They shot 58 percent on 3-pointers — making it seem like they were in the gym by themselves. Only it was better than that. It was as if the poor Suns were the Blazers’ best teammates.
As the Oregonian noted, “It was the largest margin of victory on opening night in NBA history, eclipsing the Denver Nuggets’ 46-point win over the Los Angeles Clippers in 1987.”
While this was business as usual for Lillard, Connaughton’s performance drew most of the attention in the post-game locker room.
“Pat came out and he was prepared for this moment,” Lillard told reporters. “His performance was huge tonight, not just the way he shot the ball, but how he defended, how he impacted the game as a whole.”
All in all, it was great start for the Blazers, predicted by some (many?) experts to miss the playoffs this season.
“That was a great way to start the season,” coach Terry Stotts told the media. “Obvious statement is that we played really well.”