ChrisHaynes, CSNNW.com NBA & Trail Blazers Insider
Portland, Ore. -- Noone gave them much of a fighting chance, but in their 2012-13 seasonhome-opener, the Portland Trail Blazers defeated the new-look LosAngeles Lakers by a score of 116-106, handing the Lakers their second consecutive loss in as many days.
TheTrail Blazers have now won 17 out of the last 21 games against the Lakers inside theRose Garden.
Rookie point guard Damian Lillard impressed tonight, tallying a double-double -- 23 points and 10 assist.
Lillard joined Hall-of-Famers Oscar Robertson and Isiah Thomas as the only players in NBA history with at least 20 points and 10 assist in their NBA debut.
Following his stellar performance, Lillard was asked about the new company he's in.
"It means I played a good game," Lillard said. We got 81 more games. I just want to try and be consistent and keep my level of play up to a level where I can help my team win games."
The Lakers suffered a blow in the first half when SteveNash collided with Lillard in the second quarter and ended up headingto the locker room limping on his left leg. He tried to start thethird quarter, but called for a sub two minutes in. He did not return to the gamewith a left leg contusion.
Wesley Matthews was steady and efficient with 21 points on 7-of-11 from field, but he was probably most valuable on the defensive end.
The Trail Blazers instituted a firm defensive plan forcing the Lakers to 25 turnovers and converting them into 28 points. A superstars such as Kobe Bryant still got his points (30), but he got his turnovers too, seven to be exact and Matthews was the primary reason.
"I thought Wes was into his defense all game," Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts said. "His one-on-one defense on Kobe, he took the challenge every possession. Kobe is going to score and he made some tough shots, but I thought Wes took a lot of pride in that matchup and made Kobe work."
Before tonight's game, Stotts said he would send Dwight Howard tothe line if he had to, after all, Howard went 3-of-14 from the line the night before in a loss to the Dallas Mavericks. The plan was put forth, but it did not work.
Howard went15-of-19 from the charity stripe and finished with 33 points and 14rebounds. After the game, Stotts says he wasn't doing a hack-a-Dwight, but his players were told to wrap him up if he was too deep.
"He earned every foul he got," Stotts said. "It wasn't hack-a-Dwight or anything like that. He got the ball in the paint, he may have had one and-1, maybe two. But he got the ball deep and we fouled him. It was kind of the game plan."
NicolasBatum began the game crashing the offensive boards to setup his firsttwo field goals and that would jump-start his evening. He kept Metta World Peace moving all night off screens and had a team-high 26 points and 6 rebounds.
"It was a battle to go against him (World Peace," Batum said. "It feels good that I can have success on a defender like that because he's still a great defender."
LaMarcus Aldridge added 19 points and three rebounds and J.J. Hickson finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Tonight's sellout marks 193 straight
The Trail Blazers will now embark on a three-game road trip with stops in Oklahoma, Houston, and then Dallas.