A pair of eighth-seeded teams delivered stunning upsets in their playoff openers yesterday as the Portland Trail Blazers and Orlando Magic surprised the top-seeded Los Angeles Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks.
Damian Lillard scored 34 points as the Trail Blazers toppled the West's number one seeded Lakers, 100-93, and Nikola Vucevic tallied 35 points as the Magic defeated the East's top seeded Bucks, 122-110, at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.
"Every time we have played since we have been here, it is like a playoff game," said Lillard. "So that prepared us for a game like this."
The last time both NBA top seeds lost their playoff openers was 2003 when the San Antonio Spurs and Detroit Pistons stumbled out of the gate.
Lillard drained several long three-pointers including one from 36 feet with just over three minutes left to break a 89-89 tie. Three-pointers are something he has been working on in practice.
CJ McCollum had 21 points and Bosnian Jusuf Nurkic scored 16 points and 15 rebounds for the Blazers, who made 13 of 34 three-pointers. Carmelo Anthony added 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Anthony Davis finished with 28 points and 11 boards, while LeBron James had 23 points, 17 rebounds and 16 assists for the Lakers, who struggled from beyond the arc making just five of 32 attempts. Kyle Kuzma chipped in 14 points.
James is the first player in history to record a 20 point, 15 rebound and 15 assist triple double in the postseason.
Meanwhile, the Magic got off to a quick start to seize a double-digit lead then blunted a second-half rally by the Bucks, who boast the league's top player Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Orlando came into the series as big underdogs against the NBA's best all-around team.
"We don't care what other people have to say," Vucevic said. "We focus on ourselves and we came out and played a great game on both ends of the floor."
Vucevic, of Montenegro, also had 14 rebounds and four assists. Terrence Ross finished with 18 points and six rebounds, while DJ Augustin added 11 points and 11 assists for Orlando, who shot 49 percent from the field and made 16 baskets from beyond the arc.
Reigning league MVP Antetokounmpo finished with 31 points, 17 rebounds and seven assists.
In another playoff encounter, James Harden scored 37 points to lift the Houston Rockets to a 123-108 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Despite not having Russell Westbrook for the fifth time in six games, the Rockets offence was sizzling, combining for 76 points in the second and third quarters.
The Miami Heat ran away for a 113-101 win over the Indiana Pacers after Tyler Herro's jump shot with 8:52 remaining broke a tie.*AFP
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