Trail Blazers hold off Thunder to win opening matchup

Thunder are the only lower seed favored to win in the first round

Former Thunder center Enes Kanter recorded 20 points and 18 rebounds in the game as he dominated his old teammates down low in the paint.

However, the team probably approached this 2019 NBA Playoffs series with the Portland Trail Blazers with a bit of confidence.

It was the first postseason meeting between the teams since the Thunder moved from Seattle to Oklahoma City. Moe Harkless' first-quarter defense on George set the tone for the night, as he blocked two George shots in the opening 55 seconds and three in the first quarter. He was averaging 14 points, 10.5 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 44 games, but the team was moving in a different direction.

CJ McCollum added 24 points for the Blazers, while Russell Westbrook had 24 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds for his ninth career postseason triple-double for the Thunder. The Trailblazers will be delighted with how they've started the series especially after getting swept by the Thunder in the regular season.

"I don't think it was really anything we did", Blazers guard Damian Lillard said.

George missed the Thunder' regular-season finale Wednesday at Milwaukee because of the nagging injury, which also kept him out of games on February 28, March 2 and March 3.

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While Westbrook was part of the Thunder's 3-point problem, missing all four of his attempts from deep, he wasn't the root of OKC's issues.

The Blazers' hopes for post-season success were dealt a blow last month when center Jusuf Nurkic (averaging15.6 points, 10.4 rebounds) was lost for the season with a broken left leg.

On Feb. 7, just hours after the National Basketball Association trade deadline, the New York Knicks released Kanter. George buried a 3 and it was 93-92 with 2:35 to go, but Lillard's trey upped Portland's lead to 96-92 with 2:23 to play.

What: Blazers vs. Thunder, 7:30 p.m. Terrance Ferguson and McCollum had a heated exchange in the second quarter, earning technical fouls.

Portland dominated the early going, jumping out to a 38-23 lead late in the first quarter.

Game 2 is back at the Moda Centre on Wednesday (NZT).

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