Trail Blazers, Nuggets walk and foul their way through exhibition opener

Dwight Jaynes
NBC Sports Northwest

If you like missed shots, fouls and turnovers, Tuesday night's opening exhibition game in Memorial Coliseum was for you.

The Trail Blazers played host to the Denver Nuggets and paid homage to the old days of the NBA when players didn't shoot well and got called for traveling once in a while.

The result was a 105-94 Denver win over Portland that was billed as a throwback game but should have been a throw-it-back game, the way you do with a fish that doesn't measure up.

The Blazers shot 34.1 percent from the floor and missed 60 shots. They were 6 for 30 from three-point range and had 22 turnovers and 24 fouls. The Nuggets forced some of those turnovers and fouls but were just 9-29 from three while making 44.7 percent of their field goals overall. Denver had 29 fouls and 24 turnovers.

"It looked like a first exhibition game," said Portland Coach Terry Stotts. "First half was not bad, the third quarter was pretty sloppy with turnovers. We didn't shoot the ball well for most of the game. Kind of to be expected for the first exhibition game."

A lot of those turnovers were traveling calls, a point of emphasis for the officials this season. "Points of emphasis" in the NBA usually means they make those calls in the exhibition games but once the season starts, things return to normal.

Some of the walking violations called in this game were almost invisible. It will be interesting to see if players named Lebron James, Kawhi Leonard and James Harden will be whistled for those violations.

"Point of emphasis," CJ McCollum said. "We'll see when the regular season starts. They call it early to get you used to it. Set a precedent. Like the ‘freedom-of-movement' thing in past years."

Stotts said, "They said they were going to look to clean up the travel, so we are going to have to adjust."

Stotts managed to get all 17 of his players who were wearing a uniform into the game, which was an achievement. Portland trailed by only 52-50 at the half but the game got away in the second half as the bench cleared.

Damian Lillard and McCollum played 15 minutes apiece in the first half and watched the rest of the game from the bench. They were only 5-15 from the field and 1-8 from three.

Some of the new Blazers made a good first impression, particularly if you ignore the shooting problems.

Kent Bazemore had a whopping seven steals and was all over the court, but he was just 1-7 from the floor. Mario Hezonja had a team-high 12 points to go with six rebounds and two assists but was a team-worst minus-10 for the game. Anfernee Simons had 10 points but was 3-11 from the field and Zach Collins had 10 while making 5 of 12.

Paul Millsap scored 14 points to lead the Nuggets, who rested their best player, Nikola Jokic.

Officially, the game was called a Memorial Coliseum sellout at 10,942.

"It was a good experience, Fan Fest and tonight," Lillard said. "Hopefully, some of that magic rubs off on the team."

Trail Blazers, Nuggets walk and foul their way through exhibition opener originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest

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