The Trail Blazers opened the 2018-19 season with a 128-199 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday, extending their winning streak against the Lakers to 16 games and their winning streak in home openers to 18! Here's what our Blazers Outsiders think following the big win.
Like all of Rip City, I'm obviously thrilled with the Blazers 16th (!) straight win over the Lakers. ET running the second unit was beautiful to watch; highlighted by Collins' defense and Sauce pouring in 24. The Spurs will be a fun test on Saturday. I'll be looking forward to the bench play most of all, to see if this is the new normal, or if the Lakers are just not very good.
So I get to the bar, and there’s this Lakers fan that won’t stop shouting “LEBRON, LEBRON, LEBRON” (I didn’t realize it is apparently very cool to just shout your team’s entire roster without any supporting statements) and I’m convinced the night will be ruined because of this guy’s mouth. But aside from a few dunks, LEBRON and the Lake Show (extremegag.gif) weren’t playing the spectacular basketball that so many had predicted they would, and Sauce Castillo came onto the floor to rain 24 points onto the heads of the Lakers *AND* pleasantly surprised Blazers fans. It was truly a thing of beauty to watch the lone Lakers fan in this Blazers bar progressively fold in on himself as the sound of “BEAT LA” filled the air, and the Portland Trail Blazers filled my heart with our first win of the season. Go Blazers!!!
As much as I hate to be THAT guy who gets overly optimistic over one game.... yeah, I'm excited. The Trail Blazers definitely have some weak spots still, but the strong points overshadowed those by far. The Lakers legitimately are the worst three-point shooting team in the NBA, Dame is looking very Dame-ish as always, Zach is looking poised and confident, Aminu didn't break our hearts with a million three attempts, and Nik Stausaks is our new lord and savior. Build the man a statue outside the Moda already; I'll pitch in for the fees.
His name is Nik Stauskas. If you didn't know it before, you know it now. The man known as Sauce Castillo poured in 24 points off the bench, including 5-8 from deep. Sure, this level of play may not be sustainable for the entire season, but what we saw Thursday was simply amazing. Questions filled the air entering the season when the Blazers let Pat Connaughton go. Fans worried if Stauskas could fill the void. He slammed the door shut on those worries. Stauskas' performance was so jaw-dropping that we are barely talking about Zach Collins and his six blocks! Collins looked out of sorts early on but made some great adjustments as the game progressed and his defense was key to the Blazers victory. It's still early, but I really liked what I saw in Game 1.
I’m not a novelist so I’m just going with what I saw last night and simply put… the Los Angeles Lakers thought Nik Stauskas was a towel boy. That’s the only excuse for letting him get open and off the way he did. Credit to Sauce Castillo here for taking and making those shots and for inspiring me to become the biggest Nik Stauskas fan in the world but it felt like after Lebron James and JaVale McGee were done dunking on everyone’s soul that they were pretty much spent. From there on out it was Stauskas Time! Nik Time? It’s a work in progress.
While Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum struggled from the field it was the Blazers bench who carried with day - of course, buoyed by Stauskas- with 55 combined points from the bench. I can’t remember a time that has happened all too recently off the top of my head and I don’t yet expect that to be the norm but it was truly fun.
Of course, the flipside to the inspired offense was the Blazer’s defense- particularly that of the 2nd unit. Now, the first half the interior defense was… let’s call it suspect to be nice. The Lakers hit a single shot outside of 10 feet in the first half and yet Portland was still running out to shooters and jumping at ball fakes allowing the Lakers to score at will inside.
Whether it was an inspirational speech or someone finally saw the shot chart, the Blazers figured it out and started clogging the lane. Zach Collins was hyped. Apparently, they have decent block parties at Gonzaga because dude was acting like he’d been doing this for a long time. Six blocks? Have a night!
Kudos to all of you who picked Stauskas and Collins to make the biggest contributions of their NBA careers on the same night. Perhaps you should also consider investing in that $1B lottery drawing.
*You can catch Blazers Outsiders pre and postgame show with Danny, Joe, and Shain before and after every Trail Blazers game. And on weeknights when the Blazers aren't playing you can catch Blazers Outsiders with Alex, Chris, and Jake.
Source : https://www.nbcsports.com/northwest/portland-trail-blazers/breakdown-staple-terry-stotts-offense-horns926