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Photo By Bruce Ely / trailblazers.com

Being a Trail Blazers fan is much like living the film Groundhog Day. From season to season, the storyline doesn’t change much: The Blazers are the perpetual underdogs, discounted by the talking heads claiming they don’t have the elements to be play-off contenders, no major shifts in the line-up during the off season, but high expectations for the players returning, and on and on and on. Of course, despite the déjà vu, the fans always come back rabid and ready with soaring hopes that the Blazers’ fire will burn brighter than last season.

Also per usual, the Blazers seemingly have a dark horse that the opposing team won’t see coming. In his first regular season game with the Blazers on Thursday, guard Nik Stauskas blew the roof off the Moda Center and handily drained 24 points—his career high—in their win against Lebron and his Lakers. CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard did their standard thing too, and popped 21 and 28, respectively, but Stauskas was the big surprise. Ideally it wasn’t a fluke.

Game two of the regular season saw the Blazers going nose to nose with the San Antonio Spurs. Manu Ginobili may have retired, but the Spurs still have seasoned vets like Pau Gasol and good ol’ LaMarcus Aldridge to work with. Plus, they picked up Demar DeRozan from Toronto, and the personified fury and wisdom that is coach Gregg Popovich is still at the helm. The Spurs are never slags, so the Blazers needed to bring the same intensity they showed Lebron on Thursday if they wanted the win.

When the 48 minutes was up, the Blazers confidently, and somewhat quietly walked off with the win, 121-108. No intense fireworks or mind-boggling play, just quality, strong, fundamental basketball.

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Photo By Bruce Ely / trailblazers.com

In the first quarter the Blazers struggled to get the ball close to the rim on offense. The Spurs kept them so cut off, even Jusuf Nurkić tried his hand at a three. The attempt was rather comical to see, and clanged off just short. That didn’t stop Dame from swirling a three pointer from one foot outside the pinwheel at center court. Dame sure likes to show off sometimes. The Blazers kept the lead through most of the first, but it ended tied at 22.

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Photo By Bruce Ely / trailblazers.com

After Zach Collins got himself into a little foul trouble early in the second, Meyers Leonard stepped out on the court. Much to this scribe’s surprise, he didn’t look too bad. He actually found himself in a good spot under the rim a couple times, including a solid alley-oop from Evan Turner. Every year the rumor is that Leonard is gonna wake up and look like he’s been in the NBA for a few years. Seeing him pick up some points down low is a good start.

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Photo By Bruce Ely / trailblazers.com

The Blazers kept it tight throughout the rest of the first half, pushing their field goal percentage up to 53 percent, and took a nine point lead into the locker room, 59-50.

The third quarter saw the Blazers handling the ball like surgeons. They pushed it fast, moved it well, and found the right man at the right spot. Al-Farouq Aminu was mean with Aldridge on defense. Aminu put it to him rough and tough, giving Aldridge zero good looks. Things were looking up. The Blazers led by 15 going into the final quarter, 97-82.

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Photo By Bruce Ely / trailblazers.com

The Blazers played more solid defense in the fourth, doubling the ball, and generally pinned the Spurs down. With just over three minutes left in the game, the Blazers’ lead was a comfy 17. The Spurs had no answers. Coach Terry Stotts confidently tipped over the pine with three minutes left in the game, and let the bench ride off into the sunset with the win.