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After two-month absence, CJ McCollum returns to Portland lineup Tuesday

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Michael Smith and Michael Holley agree that even if Carmelo Anthony never wins an NBA Championship, he is "still one of the best pure scorers we've ever seen."

For the first 13 games of the season, CJ McCollum was playing the best basketball of his career, averaging 26.7 points a game, staying efficient while taking on a larger role in the offense, taking more threes and hitting them at a career-best 44.1% clip. McCollum was playing at an All-Star, maybe All-NBA level.

Then he injured his foot.

That recovery has taken two months, but McCollum returns to the rotation on Tuesday against the Pelicans, Portland announced.

Portland went 14-11 in that stretch — they were also without starting center Jusuf Nurkic for those games, he is still a couple of weeks away from a return — mostly on the back of Damian Lillard carrying the offense and being clutch.

At 22-16, Portland sits tied for fifth in the West, avoiding the play-in games and within striking distance of the Clippers for the No. 4 seed and hosting a first-round playoff series. As the Trail Blazers get healthy, that goal seems attainable.