Each week, Team Mom highlights her favorites plays, players, and other things that made the Trail Blazers fun to watch. Who is Mom’s Favorite this week? Did anyone get put in the dog house? What were your favorite things this week? Let us know in the comments below.
We’re all crossing our fingers as we wait to hear about CJ McCollum’s leg injury suffered on Saturday night. Since the All-Star Break he has been shooting 48.8 percent from the field, and 45.8 percent from three. His scoring average rose from 21.0 to 22.7 points per game. McCollum has been an important part of the improvement of the Damian Lillard’s supporting cast.
Mom’s Favorite: McCollum Time
(Get well soon CJ!)
A new trend is emerging these last few weeks (at least I hope it is a trend): players not named Damian Lillard have been sharing the responsibility for winning games. While Lillard Time has always been a thrill to witness, not needing Lillard Time to win games has been nice new territory to explore.
C.J. McCollum had an outstanding performance against the L.A. Clippers on Tuesday, putting up 23 of his 35 points in the fourth quarter. Lillard only played 4:19 minutes in the quarter, he had three assists and scored zero points. Even though the game was close heading into the fourth, Lillard did not need to take over.
The Clippers are not pushovers either. L.A. had won four of their last five games and are in a tight contest with the Utah Jazz for the eighth playoff spot in the West.
Strong fourth quarter performances by McCollum are becoming more frequent. While he didn’t go nuclear, McCollum also scored the most points in the fourth in recent games against the Pelicans (10 points), Memphis Grizzlies (eight points), Cleveland Cavaliers (11 points), and Brooklyn Nets (seven points).
I’m not suggesting that McCollum Time is the new Lillard Time. Lillard Time will always be there for crunch-time, buzzer-beater, .9 type games. But McCollum Time is what happens in the fourth quarter when everyone else steps up to close it out. Let’s hope that even if McCollum misses time, the rest of the players continue to be there in the fourth quarter so Lillard Time can be reserved for use only in case of emergency.
Gold Stars: Big comes up big
Collins steps up. On Friday night against the Pelicans, it looked like no one was going to stop Julius Randle. Terry Stotts brought Zach Collins in off the bench to see if he could shake things up. While Randle went on to score 45 points in the game, they did not come easy, as Collins put up a good fight--blocking Randle three times and generally being a pest.
In addition to frustrating Julius Randle, Zach Collins found success offensively as well. With about five minutes to go in the second with the Blazers down-but-not-out, Collins fought for rebounds and scored two baskets in a flurry of activity. He jumped high, boxed out, and rebounded hard while adding 12 points, eight rebounds and four blocks.
Zach Collins has had some nice performances this season. Who could forget how he single-handedly unraveling the Warriors in February? And while I can see that he might get frustrated with unpredictable playing time, I like how the Blazers are deploying him. He seems to do the most damage to other teams when they least expect him.
With Enes Kanter on the team, Stotts uses him more sparingly these days. Either foul trouble or a punch to the face might make Jusuf Nurkic need to take a seat. With Kanter as the regular backup, Zach can slide in as the four alongside him. When Kanter needs a break, Collins can stay in for a spell, building on the strength of his performance.
Damian Lillard becomes Trail Blazers second leading scorer. On Friday Lillard passed LaMarcus Aldridge to become the second most prolific scorer in Trail Blazers history.
Aldridge offered effusive (for him) praise on Twitter.
Lillard needs to score about 5400 points to pass Clyde Drexler (who is not on Twitter).
Jusuf Nurkic dunk update. On Saturday, with his 61st dunk, Jusuf Nurkic matches his dunk total from last season.
How do you slow down Harrell? On Tuesday night Enes Kanter had the unenviable task of guarding Montrezl Harrell who scored 22 points--well over his season average 16.4. But despite giving up those points, Kanter put up 14 of his own, had nine rebounds and three assists. He also recorded one steal and one block--both of them against Harrell. He may have even been able to do more if he hadn’t taken an unlucky shot to the nose from teammate Maurice Harkless in the second quarter.
Kanter followed up with another solid performance on Friday, this time scoring 17 points and grabbing eight rebounds against the Pelicans. Saturday? Well, with Nurkic tearing it up Kanter only played 14 scoreless minutes.
“Shout out to Pull-up!” Kevin Durant and CJ McCollum appeared on the Board Room where they revisited their “Twitter beef.” Honestly, the best thing about this clip is that it gave CJ one more chance to highlight his podcast. He addresses mental health and wellness in the latest episode, I highly recommend it.
Hot Yoga in LA. Wow, so many six packs in one picture.
Why is the ref over here patting Nurkic in the face? Doesn’t he get hit in the head enough?
That will do it for this week’s Mom’s Favorites! What were your favorite things to happen with the Portland Trail Blazers this week? Let us know in the comments below.