CJ McCollum coolly knocked down the go-ahead jumper with 10 seconds remaining and Pascal Siakam’s floater at the buzzer was just off as the Portland Trail Blazers held on late to secure a come from behind 112-111 win over the hungry Toronto Raptors at the Moda Center.
McCollum had a game-high 30 points, and Carmelo Anthony had his best and most impactful game of the season, scoring 10 of his 20 points in the final 5:16 to help will the Blazers to a victory they had no business taking. Anthony stuffed the stat sheet with 5 boards, 3 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks, but most importantly, his clutch shooting was vital down the stretch. Given how the contest began, the thrilling outcome would have seemed highly improbable.
Portland got off the a rocky start, and for a while looked to to be letting the game get away from them early. It took nearly three minutes for the team to get on the scoreboard, and from there points were hard to come by in a trying 21-point opening period. The Raptors smothered Damian Lillard whenever he drove the ball, forcing him to choose between a tightly contested shot at the bucket or deferring to his teammates who were decidedly cold. The proposition was lose/lose. Dame struggled to convert against the length of the Raptors’ defenders and Portland’s wings clanked one wide open heave after another.
Lillard’s mood was likely not improved by a rolled ankle suffered moving through a screen early in the quarter. Although he played through it, he clearly favored it going forward. And adding injury to injury, Jusuf Nurkic made his way to the locker room after playing only 9 minutes with what the team called a left quad contusion. He was listed as questionable but did not return. It was like watching Sideshow Bob step on a rake, have the handle spring up to hit him in the face, then take one step forward only to step on yet another rake.
Meanwhile, Toronto found themselves in a 3-point Renaissance, sinking 10-25 from deep in the in the first half to kick the Blazers while they were down. Former Duck Chris Boucher was a menace on both ends off the bench, extending Portland’s defense to uncomfortable levels and then erasing shot attempts at the other end of the floor. Portland also had no good answer for Siakam, who decimated them from the mid-range. The Raptors built a 17-point lead midway through the second quarter, and from there, you might have just given them the win.
But with Nurkic sidelined, the more deliberate Enes Kanter (14 points, 6 rebounds) might have been just what the doctor ordered. Kanter’s energy, rebounding presence and reliable shot-making near the basket provided a jolt of energy to team just as Lillard and McCollum started to heat up. Toronto’s advantage was cut to just five points at halftime, and then the Blazers even temporarily regained the lead early in the third quarter before falling behind yet again.
Back and forth they would go, setting the stage for Anthony and McCollum’s heroics.
The Blazers get a day off and then it’s back to Sacramento for a rematch with the Kings Wednesday evening at 7 pm Pacific.