The Portland Trail Blazers returned home last night to host the Atlanta Hawks for a Wednesday Night battle on ESPN. This game was all Blazers as they routed the Hawks 102-78. Nicolas Batum led the way for the Blazers with 14 points and 18 rebounds while Cartier Martin came off the bench for Atlanta for a game-high 16 points.
CJ McCollum faced off against a familiar foe: Bucknell grad Mike Muscala. Muscala was drafted in the second round by Atlanta last year and been playing overseas in Spain up until last Thursday when the Hawks signed him. His first NBA game was Sunday in Phoenix where he scored 4 points with 5 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 4 fouls in 19 minutes. Last night was his second game and Muscala once again scored 4 points, grabbing 4 rebounds, blocking 1 shot, and his first career NBA steal. He also set a career-high with four fouls, all in about 15 minutes of play.
CJ McCollum played 21 minutes, scoring nine points (4-9 FG, 1-5 3Pt), grabbing 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 turnover, and 2 personal fouls. CJ seemed re-energized in this game. His first basket came on a great give-and-go series with Meyers Leonard and his second came from a one-handed layup with time expiring in the first half. It was great to see CJ in a busier role in the Blazers’ rotation. Hopefully he stays in this role for the time being, just as Will Barton did over the last few games.
The Blazers hit the road for Dallas where they will face the Mavericks tomorrow night at 8:30. CJ will most likely be guarding either Monta Ellis who averages 19.0 points in about 36 minutes per game.