Originally posted on NorthWest Sports Beat  |  Last updated 11/8/12
Top Blazers Last 7 Days The Portland Trail Blazers returned to the court last week to kick off the 2012-13 NBA season, and so returns my weekly Rick’s Picks column. I know you missed it. Portland opened the new season in stunning fashion, going 2-2 over their first four games, with one of the wins being notched in the incredibly hyped home opener against the Los Angeles Lakers. Kobe Bryant and company (some guy named Steve Nash and a seven-footer they got from Orlando) couldn’t maintain momentum against Portland, while rookie point guard Damian Lillard dazzled the crowd and showed that he is, in fact, ready for the NBA. Before a raucous Rose Garden crowd, the Blazers were all over the Lakers from the get go, and they put them away 116-106 (Chalupas!) to start the 2012-13 campaign. So while many have Portland finishing near the bottom of the Western Conference (I’m part of the many), the first week’s games showed that Portland may very well exceed some of their preseason expectations. That’s not to say they’ll be a top-5 seed in the West, but you could see them win closer to 40 games, which would be a very welcome sight in an obvious rebuilding year. Here are the three best performances by a Blazer in their opening week. First Star: Damian Lillard (10/31: W vs. LA Lakers) Lillard is the team’s All-Star from the first week of the season (Photo: The Oregonian) The rookie was already making waves in the NBA during the summer league games after he was named co-MVP, so his first official professional game was going to be nothing short of a spectacle; if not for just ticket sales alone, but possibly in the event that Portland may actually witness a draft pick that shows real potential. Lillard was effective from the start, recording five points, four assists and two rebounds in the first quarter alone. Feeding off of the roars from the Rose Garden crowd, Lillard showed he could compete at the NBA level, and showcased why Portland used their No. 6 overall pick on the guard out of Weber State. Finishing the night with 23 points, 11 assists, three rebounds and one steal, Lillard joined Oscar Robertson and Isiah Thomas as the only players to record 20 or more points, and at least 10 assists, in their NBA debuts (per Elias Sports Bureau). That’s pretty good company. Second Star: LaMarcus Aldridge (11/3: W @ Houston) Portland’s bona fide All-Star is back at it again this year, and his performance against Houston this past weekend was no different. The forward out of Texas came up big against a Rockets team that had seen some early season success behind their newest acquisition, James Harden. LaMarcus Aldridge put up 27 points on 13-of-29 from the floor, 11 rebounds, six assists, one steal and two blocks. Talk about stuffing the stat sheet, LA was making an impact on both sides of the floor all night long. While it was Lillard who controlled the overtime period, and led Portland to the win, it was Aldridge’s play throughout that kept the Blazers competing against one of the surprise teams in the West. Third Star: Nicolas Batum (10/31: W vs. LA Lakers) Portland’s new $46 million dollar man was proving he’s worth every penny of that new contract in the season opener against the Lakers. Logging 40 minutes of action, Nicolas Batum scored 26 points on 9-of-16 from the floor, 3-of-9 from beyond the arc and 5-of-7 from the charity stripe. Nic also grabbed six rebounds, had one assist, three steals and one block. It was his all-around effort last Wednesday night that helped Portland stay out in front of Los Angeles for most of the game. His dunk in the third quarter, on Dwight Howard of all people, put the Rose Garden in a frenzy, and in that moment, all was forgotten about the Frenchman’s desire to play in Minnesota. Hopefully we see this on a more consistent basis out of Batum; the Blazers could seriously use it this year. Dunk of the Week: Nicolas Batum vs. LA Lakers As mentioned above, here is the dunk that set the Rose Garden on fire in the home opener. Enjoy. CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT THE BLAZERS BLOG IN OUR CLUBHOUSE TODAY AT NWSB!
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Baltimore Orioles acquire starting pitcher Odrisamer Despaigne

USC athletic director Pat Haden to retire in June

Report: Browns owner ‘frustrated, emotional’ about Johnny Manziel

Raiders and Texans to play MNF game in Mexico City in 2016

Goodell wants to keep Raiders, Chargers in home markets

Deadly shooting breaks out at Dublin boxing weigh-in

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Mike Shula vs. Wade Phillips: The best story of Super Bowl 50

LeBron: ‘I don’t really see a problem’ with Hack-a-Shaq

Report: Asking price 'too steep' for Howard trade to Celtics

Ex-teammate: 'Fair to assume' Lynch done with Seahawks

Steve Young: ‘I’m worried about Matthew’ Stafford

Report: Clippers, Nuggets have discussed Blake Griffin trade

USMNT are big favorites against Canada

‘Crying Jordan’ photographer had no idea it existed until this week

NHL nightmare: No Canadian teams in the NHL playoff hunt

Seven unheralded players set to make major impacts in SB 50

‘Actor’ Todd Gurley wants to make ‘billions’

The 14 biggest plays in Super Bowl history

David Price donates $300K to build field for special needs kids

J.R. Smith pulls a Marshawn on 3-point contest slight

Tom Brady has clock counting down to Super Bowl LI

QUIZ: Name the winning starting quarterback from every Super Bowl

The Jaguars and NFL’s permanent calling in London

John Scott’s NHL All-Star Game Odyssey: Now in storybook form

Bazed but not confused: Why Bazemore is in for a payday

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The 14 biggest plays in Super Bowl history

Manziel's father fears for QB's life

Johnny Manziel dropped by agent

Michael Irvin: Cowboys should save Manziel

QUIZ: Name the Super Bowl halftime performers since 1991

The merits of trading Blake Griffin to the Hornets

X-factors in Super Bowl 50

Could the Marlins contend in 2016?

Report: Browns to cut Manziel in March

Browns rip Manziel in statement

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker