CJ McCollum led the way as the Portland Trail Blazers began 2017 by defeating the Minnesota Timberwolves 95-89. McCollum scored a career-high 43 points, shooting the ball extremely well: 16-25 FG, 3-6 3PT, and 8-9 FT. Strong Portland defense also played a vital role in the game. After falling behind 49-37 at halftime, the Trail Blazers outscored the Timberwolves 32-15 in the third and held them to 33 percent shooting for the second half.
.@CJMcCollum scored a career-high 43 points last night. Happy New Year. #NBAVote pic.twitter.com/DAeSWZaL4m— Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) January 2, 2017
He's not just a sidekick.— Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) January 2, 2017
CJ dropped 43 and led the team to a road win, with Dame sidelined.@CHold goes deeper » https://t.co/C1PbWG0kHn pic.twitter.com/0fSHawBI6P
Portland improves to 30-6 against Minnesota since the beginning of the 2007-08 season.— Trail Blazers PR (@TrailBlazersPR) January 2, 2017
THAT'S the way to start the New Year! Quality road win for the @trailblazers A new career-hi for @CJMcCollum & solid defense from 1 & all!— Brian Wheeler (@blazerwheels) January 2, 2017
After the game McCollum was asked about his career night and discussed the team's defense:
Jason Quick of CSN NW on how the Blazer defense turned the game around in the second half:
After a lifeless and disjointed first half, which at times bordered on embarrassing as Minnesota took a 49-37 lead, the Blazers came out in the third quarter and unleashed a tornado of defense that sparked a 95-89 win over the Timberwolves at the Target Center.
In a season marred by a league-worst defense, the Blazers' defensive about-face in the second half was as needed as it was impressive. Keyed by traps from athletic bigs Mason Plumlee, Maurice Harkless and Al-Farouq Aminu, the Blazers were a whirlwind of activity with suffocating double-teams on ball handlers on the perimeter, and hustling perimeter players rotating to cover the weakside.
Next up for the Trail Blazers (15-21) is a road game against the Golden State Warriors (29-5). Pulling off an upset in Golden State would definitely be the highlight of their season so far. To do so, it will take a total team effort, starting on the defensive end.