It was a trip into bizarro world Wednesday night for the Portland Trail Blazers. You know – everything is backwards.
CJ McCollum had a career-high four blocked shots, Hassan Whiteside had a career-high seven assists and the normally slow-paced Trail Blazers had a season-high 28 fast-break points.
What’s next, Terry Stotts doing an hour of standup at Helium Comedy Club?
The Blazers pulled away from the Sacramento Kings in the fourth quarter in Moda Center and ran to a 127-116 win. Portland shot 56 percent from the field, including 50 percent from three-point range and got 20-plus points from four starters. Whiteside finished three assists shy of a triple double after getting 22 points and 16 rebounds.
And he had a couple of nifty backdoor passes that led to baskets off double-teams on the Portland guards.
“I love that backdoor pass, I should have gone to Princeton,” he said with a smile. “I don’t mind passing. I’m going to get better. I’m going to get better at making decisions. I’m new to this system and new to these guys and I’m going to keep working.
“I was impressed with (CJ’s) shotblocking. I was going to ask him for some tips.”
McCollum was hitting bulls-eyes all night. He was 14-22 from the floor, including 5-10 from long range, for 33 points. Damian Lillard chipped in with 24 points and 10 assists and knocked down a couple of big threes late in the game.
“What was more bizarre, his seven assists or my blocked shots?” McCollum asked. “I told him if would have wanted to get 10 assists he could have gotten 10 assists. Credit to him, he’s making the right plays and he’s learning.
“I’ll be at the rim every now and then, being a rim protector and helping people’s fantasy teams.”
The Trail Blazers, with Carmelo Anthony installed at power forward, are showing signs of becoming a very good offensive team.
“We’re just trying to build,” McCollum said. “We’re a top five or top 10 offensive team historically, but with him, we’re top five. We just have to figure out how to use all of our pieces. I think that’s the biggest thing. And then get that cohesiveness."
The defensive side of things is still a work in progress. And it’s going to take some progress.
The Kings, playing shorthanded, shot 46.3 percent overall.
“Obviously, to start the game, the first three quarters, (the Kings) played comfortable,” Lillard said. “We just didn’t do a good job in that stretch of the game and I think it showed because it was obvious toward the end of the game when we stepped it up and tightened it up at the end, we got separation because of it. The fourth quarter, we stepped it up and that was when we won the game.”
The Blazers will play host to the Los Angeles Lakers Friday night in Moda Center.
Listen to this week’s Talkin’ Blazers podcast here: