CLEVELAND – When you have about 100 family and friends travel roughly 60 miles to come watch you play, you make sure to put on a show.
That’s exactly what CJ McCollum did in the Blazers 123-110 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday night.
McCollum’s hometown of Canton, Ohio is about an hour drive from Quicken Loans Arena. McCollum was happy to see some familiar faces in the crowd. “It’s nice to play well in front of a lot of friends and family,” McCollum said.
The Trail Blazers two-guard knocked down seven straight three-pointers and with those seven, McCollum tied his career-high in threes made.
“Guys set some good screens for me, so I was able to get some easy threes… Offense was rolling, I just tried to take advantage of the movement,” McCollum said.
But McCollum was also taking advantage of what the Cavs were throwing at him.
“I think it’s just about being aggressive, mixing up cuts, and then trying to score in different ways and taking what the defensive gives you and tonight they gave me a little bit of everything,” McCollum said.
In his last 10 games, McCollum is averaging one point more than his season average of 20.9, while shooting 44.9% from the field.
McCollum went 7-for-8 from beyond the arc in Monday’s win and totaled 35 points and seven rebounds, while also getting into foul trouble. He had five personal fouls on the night after picking up his fifth with 5:56 left in the game.
“He had it rolling. It was good to see. You know, first two games, obviously on this road trip we haven’t shot the three well, we made up for it tonight, but CJ, even despite the foul trouble, he had a good rhythm to his shot, getting into the lane, it was good to see some threes go,” Blazers head coach Terry Stotts said postgame.
The Blazers shot 62.1% from deep against the Cavs after averaging 21.8% from three in the first two games on this road trip.
Even though early on with McCollum scoring 22 of his 35 points in the first half and the Blazers jumping out to a 14-0 lead to start the game, it wasn’t all three-pointers and good rhythm for the Blazers.
The second half started out rough for Portland as the Blazers got outscored 36-17 in the third quarter.
But like the leader of this Blazers team, Damian Lillard, said, “I think it’s important that we're able to weather the storm and find a way to get it done.” Lillard knows that closing out the game to go 3-0 on this trip is what is significant.
He also knows that McCollum was the big reason why the Blazers started hot and were able to finish hot in Monday’s game.
“He carried us on the offensive end, just from shot making and scoring the ball, I think it was a pretty easy night. When you’ve got a guy going like that, they can turn it into forty, fifty points and we try to just keep that rolling. I was just trying to keep him involved and keep trying to get him opportunities,” Lillard said.
Lillard finished with 21 points and eight assists.
The duo of Lillard and McCollum came up big in the final minutes. Both players hit two threes each in the final six minutes of the game.
“I liked the way we finished, the threes – that little run that we made with the threes certainly made a difference,” Coach Stotts said.
Was there anything special about how McCollum prepared for this game? Did he an extra good shootaround in the morning?
“It was just a normal day,” McCollum said. “I took a long nap like I always do, played some Blackjack last night and got ready for the game.”
A normal day for CJ -- win at the tables, win on the court.
That's a good day.