The Portland Trail Blazers and New Orleans Pelicans are going at it hard in Game 4 of their playoff series. Leading 3-0, the Pelicans want to finish out the sweep at home and rest, awaiting their next opponents. Embarrassed by a mostly-terrible effort in Game 3 (and surrendering the 3rd seed in the Western Conference so easily), the Blazers are ready to fight it out. Tensions came to a head in two plays during the first half of Game 4.
Blazers guard CJ McCollum offered a hard foul in the first incident:
Reserve center Zach Collins got tangled up in an offensive rebounding scrum in the second, just before the half concluded, eliciting a strong clap-back from Pelicans guard Rajon Rondo:
Both videos come courtesy of NBC Sports Northwest Twitter. Jason Quick, commentator for the network, had this to say about McCollum’s foul:
Frustration foul by CJ, who has always bordered on cheap and dirty.— Jason Quick (@jwquick) April 21, 2018
He was answered immediately by Errick McCollum, brother of CJ and fellow professional basketball player:
He’s never been dirty, he’s a respected and clean player. Doesn’t seem frustrated to me 15pts in 20mins 6-9 shooting (thru double and triple teams) and a close game ....It’s the playoffs, can’t give up easy layups. Have to set the tone out here. You seen the old NBA, toughen up https://t.co/0lU3NRfq0G— Errick McCollum (@ErrickM3) April 21, 2018
[Ed. note: Quick later deleted his original Tweet, the text of which can still be seen above. He wrote the explanation below.]
An earlier tweet regarding CJ McCollum's flagrant foul has been deleted. I used a poor choice of words. CJ has always been a spirited and tenacious player. Tonight was no exception.— Jason Quick (@jwquick) April 22, 2018
Suffice it to say, emotions surrounding this game are high. This is not necessarily a disadvantage for Portland. Not only did they need more spirited play, when all else fails, distracting and baiting the opponent into extracurricular activities is a time-honored tradition in NBA basketball. It turns focus away from tactics which, for the winning team, have proven successful and it could result in key suspensions which could affect further games, if necessary. If nothing else, the losing team can say they didn’t go without a fight, figuratively or literally.