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Scoot Henderson Makes His NBA DEBUT For The Blazers



Scoot Henderson Makes His NBA DEBUT For The Blazers

Scoot Henderson’s indoctrination to the NBA contained many speed bumps.

The third overall pick of the 2023 draft will aim to bounce back from a tough debut when the Portland Trail Blazers host the Orlando Magic on Friday night.

Henderson is viewed as the next face of the franchise after star guard Damian Lillard was recently traded to the Milwaukee Bucks. Henderson had 11 points, four assists and four turnovers in 36 minutes during the season-opening 123-111 road loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday.

But the first half was a case where the 19-year-old Henderson struggled while matched up against former league MVP Russell Westbrook.

Henderson missed all five of his first-half shots and committed three turnovers as the Trail Blazers trailed 67-47 at the break. Portland never led and trailed by as many as 30 in the lopsided loss.

“Obviously, just got to learn from this one, first one of the season, it’s a long season so just got to learn from it,” Henderson said afterward. “I think I could be way more aggressive knowing that teams know that I can pass now, so just got to look for the attack, try to get in the paint a little bit more.”

Portland coach Chauncey Billups could see early that Henderson was having trouble settling into the game.

“There’s going to be some nights that he looks 19. Tonight was one of those nights,” Billups said afterward. “I’m not surprised by it, we sit here and talked that I’d be interested to see at what point he calms down. It never really happened until the end of the game when the game was out of reach, but that’s just a part of it.”

Offseason acquisition Malcolm Brogdon led the Trail Blazers with 20 points off the bench. He was the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year last season for the Boston Celtics.

Orlando embarks on a four-game trip against Western Conference teams after steamrolling the Houston Rockets 116-86 in Wednesday’s opener. The 30-point margin of victory is the largest in a season opener in team history.

Orlando held a 57-31 rebounding advantage and a 59-27 edge in bench points. Reserve guard Cole Anthony led the Magic with 20 points.

“We did our thing,” Anthony said of the bench. “We came in and I thought we brought great defensive intensity. I feel like as a unit we changed the game early, got us out to a good lead. It just felt good to be on that side of the court, the winning side.”

Six players scored in double digits, with small forward Franz Wagner leading the starters with 19 points.

One of the solid contributors was backup power forward Jonathan Isaac, the No. 6 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. He had 11 points and four rebounds in 14 minutes.

Isaac missed two consecutive seasons due to major knee surgery after tearing his ACL in August 2020 in the NBA bubble during the COVID-19 pandemic. In March 2022, after being ruled out for the 2021-22 season, he underwent hamstring surgery.

Isaac returned to the court in January 2023 but he was limited to 11 games before undergoing adductor surgery.

“It was pure joy. I’ve been through the wringer when it comes to injuries the past few seasons,” the 26-year-old Isaac said after the win over the Rockets. “I’ve worked extremely hard to get back and just focused on each day and learning about myself and learning about my mental state.

“To be part of the team from the first day of training camp to the first game just feels surreal. I’m excited.”

Orlando has won two of the past three meetings with Portland after losing the previous 10.

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