The Portland Trail Blazers played in Los Angeles against the Clippers last night for their final game before the All Star Break this weekend. This game went back and forth for the entire 48 minutes of the contest but ultimately, the Clippers were able to edge out the Blazers to win 122-117. Blake Griffin led the way for the Clippers with 36 Points and 10 Rebounds while LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard scored 25 and 21 points, respectively, to lead the Blazers.
As expected, Mo Williams returned to the Blazers’ lineup after having been inactive due to family reasons. CJ McCollum returned to his usual role as the second guard off the bench and played a little over 14 minutes last night. McCollum first entered the game with 5:11 left in the first half. His first direct impact would come about minute later as CJ nailed a 24-foot three-pointer off of a great pass from LaMarcus Aldridge. CJ would return the favor about two minutes later assisting an Aldridge 27-footer. As the quarter wound down, CJ would miss two shots, pick up a personal foul, but he would pull down a defensive rebound. CJ would leave the game at the start of the second quarter and would return with 4:31 left in the second. CJ would immediately pull down his second rebound of the night. That would be his only impact on the game during the second quarter as Wesley Matthews would replace him not even two minutes after CJ checked in. CJ McCollum’s statistics through the first half: 3 Pts (1-3 FG, 1-2 3Pt), 2 Reb, 1 Ast, 1 PF
CJ wouldn’t enter the second half until the 5:56 mark of the third quarter. CJ would immediately foul Jamal Crawford’s three-point attempt; Crawford hit two of three free throws. A few minutes later, Crawford would hit two free throws after another McCollum shooting foul. CJ’s play would turn around right away as he assisted a Dorell Wright three-pointer on the very next possession and would nail a three of his own while drawing the foul on the possession after that. CJ would miss the four-point-play attempt but his teammates would help him out. Meyers Leonard pulled down the misses free throw and pass to Dorell Wright who would swing to CJ for another three! Two three-pointers in eight seconds! About a minute later, CJ would hit a seven-foot running jumper to put him into double figures for the third-straight game. About thirty seconds later, Damian Lillard would sub in for CJ as the third quarter came to a close. CJ would return in the fourth for about a minute and would miss his final shot attempt of the night.
CJ McCollum’s statistics last night: 14:15 minutes, 11 Pts (4-7 FG, 3-4 3Pt, 0-1 FT), 2 Reb, 2 Ast, 3 PF, -3
As I mentioned before, this was CJ’s third-straight game scoring more than 10 points. Last night was possibly the most impressive considering he had played at least 12 more minutes in the other two games. What is also impressive was CJ’s ability to rebound from a slow start. It’s very easy to get frustrated shooting 1 for 3 and getting 3 personal fouls but rebounding by nailing three shots in a row is great for both CJ and the Blazers. Before last night’s game, CJ moved into the Top 10 Rookies in the NBA according to NBA.com which is well deserved. The Blazers’ Facebook page put it perfectly: “Too bad he missed the first 35 game otherwise he’d be right in the thick of the R.O.Y. race.” Last night’s game will certainly add to the extremely impressive resume of CJ’s rookie campaign, but it is unfortunate that he missed those 35 game because we would probably be seeing him playing in the Freshman/Sophomore game this week if he had been healthy.
The Blazers return to action next week on Wednesday as they will host the San Antonio Spurs. CJ scored 4 points in about 11 minutes of play the last time these two teams met; the Blazers won the game 109-100 in San Antonio.