Damian Lillard proved on the first day of the 2016-2017 NBA Season that he is an MVP candidate like what most analysts are saying. The Portland Trail Blazers star point guard scored 39 points and helped his team win on opening night against the Utah Jazz, 113-104.
The Trail Blazers couldn’t shake off the fighting Jazz team for most of the night. Portland led 54-46 at halftime but the Jazz took control in the third and grabbed the lead, 83-77 entering the final quarter.
Lillard rescued the Trail Blazers at crunch time to avoid the home upset on NBA opening night. Lillard shot 13-of-20 from the field and hit four three-pointers and also added 9 rebounds and 6 assists.
C.J. McCollum added 25 points for Portland, which also got major contributions from their bench. Allen Crabbe had 18 points and Noah Vonleh had 11 points, both off reserve roles.
This was a good start for the Jazz despite the road loss. New acquisitions George Hill (19 points and 6 assists) and Joe Johnson (29 points on 12-of-16 shooting) proved they would have major roles for the team this new NBA season.
Jazz center Rudy Gobert had 12 points, 14 rebounds and 2 shot blocks. Utah needed more from other players with the injury to Gordon Hayward, who will be out for a few more weeks.
Rodney Hood also played well with 26 points but suffered an ankle injury. He did not miss action so it’s likely just a minor injury for the Jazz.
The Trail Blazers will try to make it two in a row to start the season when they face the Los Angeles Clippers in their next game. The Jazz faces the lowly Los Angeles Lakers on Friday.
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