The Portland Trail Blazers’ road trip continued on Saturday night in Dallas. The Mavericks made a charge in the 4th quarter, but the Blazers ultimately held on for a 127-111 victory, a game they only trailed in when the Mavs made the first basket of the game. LaMarcus Aldridge led the way for the Blazers scoring 30 points and grabbing 12 boards.
CJ McCollum saw 17 minutes in this contest. He first came into the game with 3:03 left in the first quarter. About 45 seconds later, CJ pulled down a rebound off of a missed Shawn Marion shot. The Blazers would quickly come down and CJ would fire his first shot, a three-point attempt from 25 feet out, eight seconds after his rebound; the shot would miss but LaMarcus Aldridge came down with the rebound and would hit the put-back basket. With eleven seconds left in the first quarter, CJ drew a foul from Dirk Nowitzki and hit both of his first two NBA free-throws. Six seconds later, CJ would commit a shooting foul on Devin Harris and would be removed from the game for only three seconds. CJ would stay in the game for the start of the second quarter and immediately made an impact: assisting a Mo Williams basket. On the next Blazers’ possession, CJ nailed his first basket of night, a 10-foot jumper, for his third and fourth points and extending Portland’s lead over Dallas to 13 points. Less than a minute later, CJ brought his point-total to seven by nailing a deep three-pointer; Blazers up by sixteen: 42-26. After about three more minutes on the floor, CJ would be substituted for Damian Lillard and would not return until late in the third quarter. His stats through the first half: 7 points (2-3 from the floor, 1-2 from three-point range, 2-2 from the FT line), 1 rebound, 1 assist, and 1 personal foul.
CJ would first enter the second half with 51 seconds left in the third quarter. He wouldn’t make a direct impact on the game during those 51 seconds, but would stay in to start the fourth. 1:45 into the fourth, DeJuan Blair would block CJ’s first shot of the second half, but the Blazers would grab the rebound and quickly give it back to CJ, who would miss an 11-foot jumper. The shot would be corralled by Thomas Robinson who would quickly put it back in. On the next Blazers possession, CJ would find the inside of the hoop from seven feet out bringing his point total to nine. CJ would play another minutes for the Blazers, in which he fouled Wayne Ellington en route to a three-point-play, missed a shot, and drew a foul from Dallas’ Shane Larkin. CJ would be subbed out for Damian Lillard with 4:30 left and would return with 43 seconds left, but wouldn’t make a direct impact in those 43 seconds. CJ McCollum’s final stats: 9 Points (2-7 from the floor, 1-2 from three-point range, 2-2 from the FT line), 1 rebound, 1 assist, and 2 personal fouls. He was also -10 for his +/- for the night. The win was the Blazers’ fifth-straight and keeps them a half-game ahead of the Thunder for first place in the Northwest Division.
CJ’s now played five games in his NBA Career. His averages: 13.6 min/game, 5.8 pts/game, 1.4 reb/game, 0.6 ast/game, 0.6 to/game.
The Trail Blazers return to action tonight in Houston against the Rockets. This game starts at 8pm and you can catch it on TNT. If CJ sees time tonight, he’ll have his toughest challenge of his young career: guarding James Harden. Harden plays about 39 minutes per game and averages 24.3 points per game, which leads the Rockets. Not to mention he leads Houston in both steals and assists.