The Thunder defense arrived in the second quarter, holding the Blazers to 30 percent shooting and just 15 points - which allowed OKC to chip away at the double-digit deficit.
McCollum scored 16 points and Lillard added 12 as the Blazers carried a 54-48 lead into intermission.
Thunder: While the Thunder swept the Blazers 4-0 during the regular season, Portland swept them in four games the season before. Adams led the way with 13 points in the first half, Westbrook added 10-8-7, and the Thunder were within striking distance despite George's 9 points on 3-of-14 from the field.
Russell Westbrook had 24 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds for his ninth career postseason triple-double.
"This year we're a different team than we have been (the last two years)", said All-Star guard Damian Lillard.
The Thunder got to within 84-81 on a Dennis Schroder floater with 8:43 to go, but Kanter sank a pair at the line, and Lillard followed with a long-range 3-pointer and a runner to make it 91-81 with 6:20 remaining.
The team certainly struggled to shoot on Sunday but it seems reasonable to think those struggles will not continue in Game 2 on Tuesday night in Portland.
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The Thunder have been to the playoffs for eight of the last nine seasons, but they haven't gotten past the opening round for the past two. However he was just 1 for 6 from the floor in the opening quarter. But he started and hit his first two 3-point attempts. The Blazers went into the fourth quarter with a 76-69 lead.
Portland jumped out to a 26-15 lead early on McCollum's third 3-pointer.
The Blazers increased the margin to 47-28 early in the second quarter.
It took the Rockets a few months to get on track for the season, but the second-half surge up the Western Conference standings netted the respect of a team that pushed Golden State to the brink of elimination before the Warriors rallied and later secured their second championship in succession and third in the span of four years.
"It's a series. First to four".
Lillard wasted no time to get in the scoring column in this one, pulling up from the Moda Center logo for his first bucket of the game.