Trail Blazers shooting guard CJ McCollum was eager to show off his pipes Tuesday night, while singing a popular 90s song titled “Don't take it personal” by Monica.
For all the 90s kids out there, they were ready to listen to McCollum and see him dance during his postgame interview.
The song was a reply to a question about whether or not Carmelo Anthony enjoyed hitting a dagger three-pointer against the Rockets Tuesday night just simply because it was the Rockets.
Because it was the one team that signed him and cut him after just 10 games during the 2018-19 season.
It was the one team that didn’t see what the Trail Blazers saw in him and have continued to see in him: His value -- both on and off the court.
Anthony rose up from three with 54.6 seconds remaining before draining the dagger to put the Blazers up five. Portland would eventually hold on and beat the Rockets, 110-102 Tuesday night.
Oooohhh, don’t take it personal. --That’s one of my favorite songs. -- CJ McCollum sang postgame
But once, McCollum wrapped up singing his response, he added, “I thought [Melo] did great. Dame [Lillard] did a good job of penetrating, making the defense collapse, kicking it out to me, it was deflected, I caught it, I heard [Gary Trent Jr.] saying one more to my right, and then I heard the Legend saying one more to my left, so I passed it to the Legend and he knocked it down... I’m glad he made it... And, insult to injury, it being against the Rockets the team that got rid of him, I think it was that much sweeter... that much more enjoyable for him."
[You can listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast here with special guest Bill Walton]:
Anthony finished with a double-double against the Rockets, his former team, Tuesday night, recording 15 points and 11 rebounds.
Melo explained what he enjoyed most about the game down the stretch saying, “the three-pointer that I made was a big shot, but the plays on the defensive end – one steal, diving on the floor, the corner block on [PJ] Tucker, and then how we was just able to kind of lock in on the defensive end down the stretch when we needed to make plays and needed to get stops we did that.”
So, did Melo take it personal, though?
“No, the meaning it carried a little bit from the simple fact that we knew how important this game was to us and we approached this game as a must win just as we did in the previous two games… But tonight we all stepped up to the challenge.”
The Trail Blazers now continue their quest for the play-in games out West.
The goal of the NBA restart as stated by team captain Damian Lillard over and over again: is to make the playoffs.
Portland sits in the ninth seed in the Western Conference standings with their 2-1 record through three seeding games. San Antonio and New Orleans are knocking at the door, though.
But having Carmelo Anthony cannot be overstated.
He is Hall of Fame valuable… He’s easily first ballot, a guy who does a lot of everything. He still has a lot left in the tank and tonight he rebounded, he was closing out guys on the perimeter. Obviously he hit a big shot down the stretch, but his presence, his ability to manipulate a game and his communication from a friendship standpoint – he’s been really great for our entire team. -- Trail Blazers shooting guard CJ McCollum
The value of a Hall of Famer is and will continue to be key for the Trail Blazers, and just as Lillard put it, Melo is "all about the team."
When we got [Melo] everybody had something to say about him – what he gonna do defensively, he’s getting older, he’s done, where’s he gonna fit in? – everybody just had something to say – why it didn’t work out with these other teams. And then he came to us and he was just laid back, a good teammate, good for our younger players. When we on the floor he’s talking whether he’s having a good or bad game – just all about the team. -- Trail Blazers All-Star Damian Lillard
After a second straight slow start for Lillard, he and the Blazers came on strong to end the game versus Houston. The five-time All-Star finished with 21 points to lead the Blazers.
But, Lillard knows that it’s Melo’s leadership that has been key, especially in crunch time.
“He understands what we need from him in certain situations,” Lillard said. “Or depending on how the game is going, he just knows where to put himself in a place to help the team.”
Lillard added, “I find it real funny, and disrespectful on how people speak on him, he’s a Hall of Famer.”
Rockets guard Russell Westbrook, who finished with 15 points on 5-of-14 shooting in Tuesday’s loss, also had plenty to say about his former teammate.
“Melo is a Hall of Famer, man,” Westbrook said. “He’s an unbelievable teammate. It’s always good to see him do well, play well. He belongs in this league. He’s shown that time in and time out.”
Yes, Melo has shown he still belongs in this league, there's no doubt about that.
And soon we'll find out if he and the Blazers still belong in the bubble once the postseason tips off.