The feeling of excitement was oozing out of the Moda Center on Wednesday night until the final seconds of the game.
It was opening night for the Trail Blazers, it was the tip-off of the 50th Anniversary as an organization, and it was a game against their NW Division rival, the Denver Nuggets.
Damian Lillard took flight with a first-quarter dunk that had the Moda Center crowd on its feet.
Besides that first-quarter dunk it was a slow start for Lillard. CJ McCollum also had a rough night shooting. It wasn’t until the third quarter that the Trail Blazers really got it going, but it wasn't enough. The Blazers had too many turnovers and allowed the Nuggets to get easy threes, especially late in the game. The Blazers' winning streak of home-openers comes to an end at 18.
Here are three quick takeaways from the Blazers loss to the Nuggets:
1. Whiteside came to play for real
Unlike in the preseason with the Blazers running such a vanilla offense, everyone now got a chance to see how Blazers head coach Terry Stotts and the Blazers plan to play Hassan Whiteside on the offensive end. Whiteside and Damian Lillard had a good connection going early and late. Whiteside was also able to get some nice put-backs.
Plus, Whiteside showed off how effortless it is for him to gobble up rebounds as well as alter shots at the rim.
The Blazers center seemed to have no ill affects from his sprained left ankle. It did look like he might still be trying to get in game shape. He was held to 26 minutes with Skal Labissiere playing big minutes at the end of the third and start of the fourth quarter.
2. The Twin Towers will be a problem for teams this season
Nikola Jokic picked up three quick fouls in the first four minutes of action. Those fouls really threw Jokic off his game. He became a non-factor on Wednesday, besides his late three-pointers. You can’t leave Jokic open on the three-point line!
Whiteside was a pest down low while defending Jokic. The combination of Whiteside and Zach Collins putting pressure on Jokic and Paul Millsap was a key in the Blazers keeping this one close. Collins did a solid job defending the quick, agile, and three-point threat of Millsap.
Jamal Murray had a heck of a time getting to the basket going up against Collins and Whiteside.
The referees were not afraid to call offensive fouls all night. Both teams got docked with fouls on their side of the ball, whether it was a moving screen or a charge call.
3. Mr. Get Those Steals
Heading into halftime, it was all about the Blazers’ defense. Kent Bazemore had three steals in three straight possessions. "The Godfather" Dwight Jaynes said he didn’t think he had ever seen that before.
The Blazers also forced the Nuggets into a shot clock violation.
Bazemore’s quick hands and quick feet were a big contribution in helping the Blazers with their perimeter defense, which the Blazers have admitted they need to tighten on up.
Up Next: The Trail Blazers hit the road for a four-game road trip starting off in Sacramento. The Blazers and Kings will tip-off at 7:00pm on NBC Sports Northwest and the MyTeams App on Friday.
Be sure to check back throughout the night and tomorrow morning for analysis, articles, and videos from the players!