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CJ McCollum Rings in New Year with Career-High in Minnesota: Post-Game Roundup

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McCollum had some fireworks for the Timberwolves, exploding for 43 points without Lillard.

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Minnesota Timberwolves Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

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.

After the game McCollum was asked about his career night and discussed the team's defense:

video via CSN NW

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.