After losing their preseason home opener, the Trail Blazers return to the Moda Center Thursday night to host the Toronto Raptors in their second exhibition season contest. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 pm.
Portland enters Thursday’s game having lost 114-112 to to Phoenix Suns Tuesday night at the Moda Center. The Trail Blazers led by as many as 24 in the first half of that game, but would go on to lose by two as head coach Terry Stotts rightly opted to emphasize rest and experimenting with rotations over a meaningless preseason win.
There were plenty of positive takeaways for Portland in the loss. Damian Lillard looked ready for the start of the regular season, scoring 18 points on 8-of-15 shooting to go with four assists and two steals in just under 21 effortless minutes. A slimmed down Jusuf Nurkić looked like just as dynamic as he did before a non-displaced fibular fracture abruptly ended his season last year, finishing with 16 points, three rebounds, an assist, a block and a steal in 16 minutes. CJ McCollum added 10 points despite having an off shooting night to go with three assists and three rebounds in 22 minutes.
Portland’s rookies also comported themselves well in their first game action since finishing as runners up in the Las Vegas Summer League tournament in July. Caleb Swanigan looked as though he might be able to crack the rotation in his first season out of Purdue, going 6-of-10 from the field and 2-of-2 from three for 18 points and six rebounds in 16 minutes. And center Zach Collins, who was traded to Portland on draft night after being selected by the Kings with the 10th overall pick, showed the defensive prowess Tuesday versus the Suns that helped the Gonzaga Bulldogs advance to the NCAA National Championship game during his lone season in Spokane.
As for the Raptors, they enter Thursday’s game having split a two-game series with the LA Clippers played at the Stan Sheriff Center on the campus of the University of Hawaii. Seven players finished in double figures in scoring in their most recent contest, a 98-84 loss Wednesday, led by 17 points and four assists in Kyle Lowry in 16 minutes.
Shabazz Napier (hamstring), Noah Vonleh (shoulder) and CJ Wilcox (knee) will all sit out Thursday night’s game, just as they did Tuesday night versus the Suns.
Thursday’s game can be seen on NBC Sports Northwest with Kevin Calabro, Lamar Hurd and Brooke Olzendam. Brian Wheeler and Michael Holton will have the radio call on Rip City Radio 620 AM.