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NBA

Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets use red-hot 3-point shooting to edge Portland Trail Blazers

Nikola Jokic and Hassan Whiteside
Nikola Jokic and Hassan Whiteside (NBA Getty Images)

A busy 11-game slate, the first full gameday of the 2019-20 NBA season, was wrapped up with a clash between division rivals - the Denver Nuggets and the Trail Blazers in Portland.

These teams have seen plenty of each other of late. Including the playoffs and the preseason, these teams have faced-off in 10 of their last 12 games and just like their playoff series last season, this game was a back-and-forth entertainer.

In the end, unlike the 2019 playoffs, the Nuggets came out on top - 108-100.

Here are the biggest takeaways from the Blazers' home opener:

3-Point disparity

The Nuggets outmatched the Blazers from beyond the arc by committee, with seven players knocking down at least two 3-pointers. The visitors, who were the 18th in 3-pointers made last season, knocked down 18 3-pointers in the win, at a league-high efficiency of 56.3 per cent..

Jamal Murray, Nikola Jokic, and Paul Milsap led the way with three apiece.

Not only were the Nuggets red-hot from beyond the arc, but their opponents couldn't find the same touch from that distance, with Portland only shooting 7-of-28 (25.0%) from beyond the arc. Damian Lillard had a game-high three but only a total of three Blazers connected from long range - Lillard, CJ McCollum (2) and Rodney Hood (2).

Superstar duel

All-Stars from both teams put up numbers and came to play.

For Nikola Jokic, it came in limited minutes as he was forced to miss a large chunk of the first half with foul trouble, before an impressive showing in the second half, eventually finishing with a team-high +20. In his total 24 minutes of action, he registered a double-double of 20 points and 13 rebounds to go with two assists, shooting 8-of-14 from the field.

Meanwhile, Damian Lillard performed just as expected. He finished with 32 points, eight assists, and four rebounds on 10-of-21 shooting from the field and 9-of-10 from the charity stripe.

Set to play three more times this season, these inter-division contests look set to keep the entertainment coming.

CJ struggles but an impressive debut for Whiteside

Acquired in a trade over the offseason, Hassan Whiteside made quite the impression in his debut for the Blazers.

In 26 minutes, he finished with 16 points, 19 rebounds and a couple of blocks on 6-of-7 shooting from the field. Given the rest of the team, his 0 looks pretty good in the +/- category. There was a video of his defense or lack thereof against Nikola Jokic that went viral but nonetheless, it was a positive start with a lot of room for improvement.

CJ McCollum got his season off to a slow start, finishing with 12 points, three rebounds and three assists in 36 minutes on 5-of-18 shooting from the field. With nearly eight new players on the roster, the Blazers need both their guards to fire to ensure victory.

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