PORTLAND Ore. - The 76ers, playing their first regular-season game since April, fought hard but came up short against the Portland Trail Blazers, dropping their season opener, 107-103, at the Rose Garden on Monday night.
In the opener for both teams, the Trail Blazers were the livelier of the two and held on to win.
Portland used a 15-5 run at the start of the fourth quarter to turn what had been a 77-72 lead at the end of three quarters into a 92-77 advantage early in the fourth.
But the Sixers, who placed seven players in double figures, didn't go away easily.
Lou Williams hit a pair of jumpers late, the last of which pulled the Sixers to within 105-103 and forced the Blazers to call timeout with 16.7 seconds to play.
When play resumed, Jrue Holiday, who fouled out with 13 points, was whistled for his sixth, on Raymond Felton. But Felton gave the Sixers a chance when he missed the second of two free throws. However, Andre Iguodala was unable to convert at the other end, and Felton put the game away with a free throw at the other end with 1.2 seconds to play.
Williams led the Sixers (0-1) with 25 points. Iguodala finished with 22. LaMarcus Aldridge led the Blazers with 25.
In the days leading up to Monday night's game, Sixers coach Doug Collins had spoken repeatedly about the importance of getting out to a fast start and building confidence.
That didn't happen.
The Sixers struggled with their offense early on, connecting on just 6 of 19 shots in the first quarter. Meanwhile, behind Aldridge, Portland shot much better.
After Elton Brand scored the Sixers' first bucket of the season on a 19-foot jumper, the Blazers responded with 10 consecutive points for a 10-2 lead.
Portland was up by 10 when Iguodala made it 20-13 on a three-pointer with a little more than two minutes remaining in the quarter. But Portland closed out the quarter on a 6-2 run to lead, 26-15.
Aldridge had his way against the Sixers frontcourt on the way to 10 first-quarter points, and that didn't change much in the second period. He had 18 by the end of the half.
But the Sixers appeared to settle down in the second quarter, shot the ball better, and played better at the defensive end.
Using a mix of starters and reserves, the Sixers started to whittle away at Portland's advantage.
The Sixers were down by as many as 13 points in the first quarter, but Williams played a key role in bringing them back within striking distance for the second half.
Held scoreless in a little more than five minutes of the first quarter, Williams collected 12 points in the third quarter. His 18-foot jumper with 6 minutes, 34 seconds remaining in the half capped an 18-9 Sixers run that pulled the visitors to within 35-33.
The Blazers restored their lead to 44-35 shortly thereafter. But the Sixers never let the lead grow to double figures the rest of the way and pulled within 48-44 at the half.
The Blazers seemed to have more spring in their legs for most of the night, and that remained the case in the third quarter. Every time the Sixers seemed as if they might make a push, Aldridge and Gerald Wallace were bailing out Portland.
But the Sixers continued to hang around and trailed by just 77-72 after three quarters.