Lillard scores 39, Blazers run home-opening win streak to 16

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Portland’s NBA-record streak of home-opening wins provided the inspiration against the Utah Jazz.

The Trail Blazers rallied in the fourth quarter for a 113-104 victory on Tuesday night, extending their record to 16 straight wins in home openers.

“With a streak that long, longest in the NBA, we wanted to keep it going,” said Damian Lillard, who had 39 points. “I was proud that we were able to do that tonight.”

CJ McCollum added 25 points for the Blazers, who trailed 83-77 at the start of the fourth quarter. They were still down 102-99 with under 5 minutes left before McCollum made a pull-up jumper and 3-pointer to give Portland a 104-102 lead.

Lillard made a pair of free throws before nailing a 3-pointer that put Portland up 109-102 with 1:02 left and the Jazz couldn’t catch up.

“I wasn’t surprised. Were you surprised?” McCollum said about Lillard’s 3. “I saw the look in his eyes and I knew what time it was.”

Joe Johnson scored 29 points in his debut with the Jazz and Rodney Hood added 26, including a rim-rattling dunk in the third quarter.

The Jazz were without several key players. Gordon Hayward is out with a broken finger on his left hand, while Derrick Favors played in just one preseason game because of a sore knee. Alec Burks continues to rehab from arthroscopic surgery to his knee and ankle.

“Where we’re at now, everybody just needs to come together and do what’s needed,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said before the game.

Johnson signed a two-year deal with the team in the offseason. Boris Diaw, acquired in a trade with San Antonio, also started in his Jazz debut.

“I want to do what I can to help this team win,” Johnson said. “This loss hurts, because we were in a position to win, on the road, against a tough team. This was a tough loss but there are positives in this. We have got to grind and get better.”

Noah Vonleh gave the Blazers a spark off the bench and his 3-pointer put them ahead 34-28. Portland stretched the lead to as many as 13 points in the first half, paced by Lillard with 16 points.

Johnson’s short jumper tied the game at 68 midway through the third quarter. Hood hit consecutive jumpers to give the Jazz a 77-71 lead. Hood would go on to split a pair of defenders with his dunk and Utah outscored the Blazers 37-23 in the quarter.

Johnson scored 27 of his points in the second half.

Allen Crabbe’s 3-pointer tied the game at 85, but the Blazers couldn’t take the lead until Lillard’s 3 made it 97-96 with 5:50 left. Johnson answered with a 3-pointer on the other end to put the Jazz back in front.

“There were moments tonight where they had the momentum but I could hear the crowd just itching to get involved, just getting loud and cheering, and that’s what we needed,” Lillard said. “We needed that to pick us up.”


Jazz: Hayward and Favors accounted for an average of 36 points per game for the Jazz last season. … Trey Lyles hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer at the end of the first half to narrow the Blazers’ lead to 54-46. … Rudy Gobert finished with 12 points and 14 rebounds.

Trail Blazers: Portland returns 11 players, and boasts the most returning minutes of any team in the league. “The learning curve is easier for those guys,” coach Terry Stotts said. … The Blazers linked arms in unity during the national anthem. … With his first assist of the night, Lillard passed Jim Paxson for sixth on the franchise career list (2,008).

FOR THE RECORD: The previous steak for home-opening wins was 14, set by Boston from 1979-92.

UNUSUAL STAT: Neither team missed a free throw in the game. The Blazers went 22 for 22 and the Jazz went 16 for 16.


Jazz: They host the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday. Utah was 24-17 at home last season.

Trail Blazers: Portland hosts the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday. The Blazers ousted the Clippers in the first round of the playoffs last season.

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!