Trail Blazers end postseason skid by topping Thunder

Damian Lillard led the Trail Blazers past the Thunder in Game 1 on Sunday night.

It took three seasons, but the Portland Trail Blazers are finally back in the winning column in the NBA playoffs.

After being swept in the first round in each of the past two seasons, Portland began the postseason with a 104-99 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday night at Moda Center.

Damian Lillard led the third-seeded Blazers with a game-high 30 points in knocking off the sixth-seeded Thunder in Game 1.

“We know how it feels to win again,” Lillard said. “Now, we can just kind of move on from that and stay focused on this series.”

Portland was swept by eventual champion Golden State two years ago and upset by New Orleans last season.

C.J. McCollum backed Lillard with 24 points, while center Enes Kanter, filling in for the injured Jusuf Nurkic,  had 20 points and hauled down a career playoff-high 18 rebounds. McCollum missed 10 games down the stretch because of a left knee strain and had only played in two games since returning. But he started and hit his first two 3-point attempts.

Russell Westbrook led Oklahoma City with a triple-double, his ninth in the postseason — 24 points, 10 boards and 10 assists. However, Westbrook injured his right ankle in the fourth quarter and grimaced while attempting to walk it off.

Asked about if after the game, Westbrook said, “We’ll see.”

Paul George, who was a game-time decision because of a sore shoulder, had 26 points an 10 rebounds for OKC. George’s 3-pointer with 8.2 seconds to play pulled OKC to within three at 100-97.

George was nursing a sore right shoulder and was considered day-to-day for Game 1, but he started. However, he was only 1-of-6 from the floor in the first quarter and shot just 4-of-15 on 3-point attempts.

“Four days ago, I couldn’t even lift my shoulder,” he said. “Then fast forward to today… this is the first day I’ve even shot the ball, so for me, it’s just rhythm.”

Lillard said the Trail Blazers know it’s going to be a physical series.

“We knew it was going to be a fight all night long. Even at the beginning of the game when we were up like 17 at one point, I wasn’t looking at the scoreboard like, ‘Let’s put them away,” he said. “I was like, ‘Let’s just stay solid, keep competing, keep playing hard,’

“And then when they make their runs, and when they get back in the game, (you) just weather those storms.”

Despite the loss, Westbrook was not discouraged.

“It’s a series. First to four. They won the first game,” Westbrook said. “Now, we make adjustments, come back, play harder next game and try to take it.”

Game 2 is Tuesday night in Portland.