The Portland Trail Blazers finished their road trip with a close game against the Memphis Grizzlies Sunday afternoon. But the game was all about CJ McCollum. Coming back to the arena where he broke out in the 2015 playoffs, McCollum torched the Grizzlies, tying his career-high by scoring 37 points and pushing the Blazers to a win down the stretch in the fourth quarter. The Blazers released a megamix of all his points today.
CJ dropped THIRTY-SEVEN on the Grizzlies earlier today pic.twitter.com/RNcRNZiA29— Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) November 7, 2016
The Blazers were also led by Damian Lillard’s 19 points (despite coming up hurting twice), and Moe Harkless 18 points on 8-15 shooting. Mason Plumlee finished with 7 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals, including the game-clincher.
The Blazers jumped out to an early 8-2 lead, thanks to hot shooting from McCollum, then extended it to 13-6 after an Al-Farouq Aminu three-pointer. The Blazers held off the Grizzlies defensively, and led 20-12 at the first official timeout.
Terry Stotts brought in the bench at their usual rotation point, and Memphis went on a short run to close the gap. The Blazers fumbled the ball down the stretch, but they held a slim three-point lead after the first quarter
First Quarter Highlights: Blazers 25, Grizzlies 22
With help from Meyers Leonard’s three-point shooting, the bench held their own to open the second quarter, re-opening a five point lead. But Zach Randolph teed off from the outside, and the game was quickly tied again. As the teams battled, Mason Plumlee picked up an unusual technical foul, as he slightly pushed a Grizzlies player in front of him as he tried to regain balance after he committed a foul.
Late in the quarter, Lillard came up hurting after a drive. His shot was block, and he jammed his thumb when landing on the floor. He stayed in the game, but after the game left the arena in a brace. Here is the play when it happened, as well as his third-quarter ankle turn:
Lillard stayed in the game, and made some free throws in the final seconds. Thanks to a long Mike Conley three-pointer at the buzzer, Memphis took a two-possession lead to the locker room.
Second Quarter Highlights: Grizzlies 51, Blazers 47
All of the Blazers’ first half three-pointers in one video:
The third quarter opened, somewhat-predictably, with the Blazers’ opponent making a run. Even Tony Allen (who was questionable to return for the second half) made his first three-pointer of the season, and Memphis took a 10-point lead. Portland scrambled on defense, creating a few opportunities and cutting the deficit to 4 before a timeout. Lillard twisted his ankle and came up limping, but promptly threw a nice assist, followed by swishing a long three. The teams fought back and forth through the quarter, with neither team gaining a significant advantage.
Third Quarter Highlights: Grizzlies 77, Blazers 76
The Grizzlies went cold to open the fourth quarter, but McCollum was just warming up. He led a quick 8-0 run, pushing Portland ahead by 5 points. But in a game like this, no lead lasts long. The Grizzlies scored 5 straight points to tie the score. As Lillard sat on the sideline waiting to enter, the Blazers came alive. Harkless swished a three-pointer to regain the lead, then McCollum shook off a defender for a three-pointer as well. Lillard came in, and McCollum promptly swished another three. Suddenly Portland had a nine-point lead with under six minutes remaining.
Memphis wasn’t done, as they clamped down their defense, cutting the Blazer lead to 3 with four minutes left. Lillard drove to the hoop, the defense collapsed, and he passed out to McCollum. Swish, and a six-point lead. Portland almost pushed the lead to 8, but turned it over on a fast break. Conley’s free throws cut the lead to 4 with two minutes remaining, but McCollum’s free throw tied his career-high in scoring and kept the Blazers ahead by 5. Mason Plumlee’s heads-up steal and free throw sealed the deal with 21 seconds remaining. The Blazers picked up a big win on the road to move over .500 again.
The Blazers finally head home, and have a Tuesday return date with the Phoenix Suns, at Moda Center this time. That’s election day, so you might be distracted.
Stay tuned for more from Blazer’s Edge, including analysis from Dan Marang and interview transcripts from David MacKay.