Mourning the death of Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony played in the hardest game of his career

Mourning the death of Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony played in the hardest game of his career

If you had a pit in your stomach Sunday night watching the Trail Blazers play, you weren't alone. 

Moda Center had a very different feeling as the Trail Blazers went on to defeat the Indiana Pacers 139-129 behind Damian Lillard’s electric 50-point performance.

But, before and after the game tipped off, there were many players either holding back tears or looking off into space as if searching for answers.

Why now? How could this happen to an NBA legend?

Coming to terms with its reality was a struggle. It remains a struggle. It feels unreal.

The Trail Blazers and Pacers game went on as scheduled despite the NBA mourning the death of Kobe Bryant on Sunday. 

After the win, the Blazers spoke in the locker room about the man who some grew up idolizing, while other were fortunate enough to face in a game.

Throughout the day NBA players and coaches had been sharing their stories of Kobe.

His competitive nature.

His overall greatness.

Him as a teammate.

A friend.

A father.

For Trail Blazers veteran Carmelo Anthony Sunday was a nightmare.

Melo and Kobe played together on Team USA for the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics.

Their relationship was special.

They kept tabs on each other via texts, phone calls, and dinners.

Playing in game just hours after learning the horrific news was more than difficult for Melo.

The 17-year veteran held back tears as he spoke to the media.

It probably was the hardest game I’ve ever had to play. Just… It was tough… Honestly knowing him, the way that I know him, he would’ve wanted me to play. – Veteran Carmelo Anthony holding back tears as he spoke on Kobe’s passing

The 35-year-old admitted that for him Sunday was not at all about basketball.

“I had to try to pull myself back in and check back in emotionally because I wasn’t there today,” Melo said.  

Over the last few months, Anthony has discussed how being away from basketball for a year put a lot of things in perspective.

Now Sunday night, it was as if he had to do that all over again.

Our friendship and relationship was deeper than basketball, it was family, it was friendship… Basketball is the last connective tissue between us to. – Carmelo Anthony

Both Lillard and CJ McCollum also had relationships with the Black Mamba, but of course, it wasn’t to the extent of Melo and Kobe.  

“We talked about it before the game,” Lillard said. “Coach just said that obviously, it’s a tough situation for everybody that had to play today, especially the ones that was friends with Kobe and had a real relationship with him. We’ve got two guys in our locker room who’re really close friends with him and then guys like myself and CJ who actually had a friendship with him and was familiar with him – we’re not the only ones… Everybody felt a way today, was hurt today. But we had to carry on so I think it was the right decision for us to go out there and compete in his honor.”

Lillard did just that. In Kobe’s honor, he not only put up 50 points, Lillard also dished out 13 assists and pulled down six rebounds in the win. McCollum added 28.

“It was tough, it was an emotional day,” McCollum said. "Not just for me, I really feel for my teammates. Trevor (Ariza) and the relationship he had with Kobe.”

Ariza was not made available to the media after the game.

Bryant and Ariza played together for one and a half seasons and won an NBA Championship together in 2009.

McCollum explained how growing up he was scared to meet the Lakers Legend.

“I knew Kobe, we had a decent relationship where we would talk when we see each other but I’m just thankful I was able to express the impact he had on my life, basketball, my work ethic, my approach, my brother’s approach. Our whole family, our coach, the NBA. I would always tell people he was the guy I was afraid to meet him and Michael Jordan. I knew Lebron growing up too, and although he’s like Mount Rushmore great, Kobe was the one I didn’t really know, so that was a guy I was afraid to meet. That really hurt, just to see the reception across the country, all of the lives he impacted, people that didn’t know him. It shows you how special he was outside of basketball. I pray for his wife, his family because lord knows what they’re going through,” McCollum said.

On a night where Lillard made history becoming the first ever Trail Blazer in the team’s history to score at least 40 points in three straight games, it was a night to discuss what Kobe has meant to everyone around the league.

“I didn’t think about basketball today to be honest,” Melo said. “I just knew that I had to do it. This is my job. I’m a professional. I’m sure he would’ve wanted me to play.”

Anthony said he talked with Kobe two days ago where they discussed Bryant’s plans to come to the Blazers-Lakers game next Thursday night at Staples Center. 

Basketball lost a legend Sunday. Kobe Bryant will be greatly missed, but his legacy, his inspiration, will carry on for generations. 

How to watch, stream Trail Blazers vs. Celtics tonight at 7:00pm

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USA Today Images

How to watch, stream Trail Blazers vs. Celtics tonight at 7:00pm

In the third and final game of the Trail Blazers’ current homestand, Portland (26-32) welcomes in the Boston Celtics (39-17) on Tuesday night.

Damian Lillard will miss his third straight game due to a right groin strain. The Blazers are 1-1 without Lillard in the lineup. 

CJ McCollum has been shouldering a lot of the load with Lillard out. In  the two games with no Lillard, McCollum is averaging 34.0 points, 7.5 rebounds and 11.0 assists.

You can watch all the action between the Blazers and Celtics on NBC Sports Northwest, the Official Network of the Portland Trail Blazers and you can stream the game on our website or by downloading the MyTeams app!

And, have you heard about Blazers Pass?

You can get 15 live Trail Blazers games, pre and postgame shows, and on-demand full-game replays with Blazers Pass! (Only available to fans located in Blazers Territory, pursuant to NBA rules and agreements. No TV provider required. Subscription Period: November 4, 2019 - April 16, 2020. Subscription auto-renews prior to start of next season.)

Don't miss any of the coverage of tonight's game:

4:30pm Blazers Game Day with Chad Doing

6:00pm Blazers Warm-Up

6:30pm Trail Blazers Pregame Show

7:00pm Trail Blazers vs. Celtics

After the game catch Blazers Outsiders with hosts Joe Simons and Dan Marang!

And, get full coverage of the game from Dwight JaynesJamie Hudson and our digital team. Follow us on social throughout the night for the latest updates. 

QUOTABLE

“I think so. I think so,. [Rudy] Gobert won it because he was leading the league in blocked shots. This is going to be my second time (leading the league). Let’s talk about it.” -- Hassan Whiteside on if he believes he should win Defensive Player of the Year 

Damon Stoudamire calls Arvydas Sabonis the best big man passer to ever play the game

Damon Stoudamire calls Arvydas Sabonis the best big man passer to ever play the game

"It's crazy that when I got to Portland I played with Arvydas Sabonis, but Arvydas Sabonis was drafted when I was a kid. That's the craziest thing for me."

That is what former Trail Blazers star point guard Damon Stoudamire had to say about playing with the legendary Arvydas Sabonis. 

Sabonis and Stoudamire both made their NBA debuts in 1995, but took drastically different paths to get there. 

Stoudamire was the No.7 overall pick in 1995, starting his career with the Toronto Raptors and winning Rookie of the Year.

Nine years earlier, a 12-year-old Stoudamire watched the 1986 NBA Draft where his hometown Portland Trail Blazers drafted Sabonis with the 24th overall pick.

Sabonis would remain overseas, not making his debut in the NBA until he was 30 years old. 

In 1998, Stoudamire was traded to Portland and the young man got to play with the old man he remembered the team drafting when he was a kid. 

But, Sabonis wasn't just an old big.

He was a rare talent. 

Big men in the NBA aren't usually thought of for their passing skills. Rather, they are thought of for their big bodies that do damage on the glass and hard work in the paint.

But every once in a while there are rare bigs that have the body of Shaq, but pass like John Stockton.

Bill Walton, Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, and Nikola Jokic are a few names that come to mind. 

But if you ask Stoudamire, the best to ever do it hailed from Lithuania. 

(Sabonis) made the game easy for everyone. The best big man passer, I believe, to play the game. He could shoot it, and this was all playing on one leg. I can't even imagine him healthy... a healthy Sabonis. - Stoudamire on Sabonis

Even on one leg, Sabonis averaged 12.0 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game in seven seasons with the Blazers. 

Those are solid numbers for any center, let alone one that was "old" by NBA standards when he made his debut. 

Sabonis will forever be one of the NBA's biggest "what if" questions.

What if Sabonis came over in '86? What if prime Sabonis was on those Blazers teams the made it to the NBA Finals in the early 90s? What would have happened to Michael Jordan and the Bulls or Isiah Thomas and the Pistons?

There may be many questions, but there is no question about how good Sabonis truly was. Just ask the guys that played with him and they'll tell you. 

Sabonis was one of the greatest big men to ever play the game. 

Nike's simple tribute to Kobe Bryant will bring you to tears

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Nike/Twitter

Nike's simple tribute to Kobe Bryant will bring you to tears

As thousands of descended upon Staples Center Monday for a public memorial for Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gigi, the tributes continued around the world. 

A tragedy that still doesn't feel real even weeks later. 

Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others were killed in a tragic helicopter accident on Sunday, January 26th.

Monday, Michael Jordan, Shaquille O'Neal, Sabrina Ionescu, Jimmy Kimmel and Vanessa Bryant  were among those who spoke in honor of Kobe and Gigi.

As memorials continue through murals and heartfelt messages, Beaverton-based Nike released a touch tribute to the late Kobe Bryant. 

No images, no videos. Just words. 

It was powerful. It was touching. It was emotional. 

Mamba Forever.

Mike Barrett reminisces about Trail Blazers' 50 years: "It’s my team, it runs deep with me"

Mike Barrett reminisces about Trail Blazers' 50 years: "It’s my team, it runs deep with me"

Remember those Mike and Mike t-shirts?

The 2000s in Trail Blazers history – there’s a lot to reminisce about in that fun-filled decade.

Brandon Roy.

Scottie Pippen.

Damon Stoudamire.

Travis Outlaw.

Joel Przybilla.

These are just a few of the names that come to mind when thinking about the decade that was the 2000s in Rip City.

But, it's hard to think about those ten years, though, without one more: Former Trail Blazers play by play announcer Mike Barrett.

On Sunday night, as the Trail Blazers hosted the Detroit Pistons, the Blazers celebrated the 2000s.

There stood Barrett, along with Stoudamire and Outlaw, being introduced at center court during the first timeout of the first quarter.

It’s hard to say who had a bigger ovation.

One thing is for sure: Trail Blazers fans were happy to welcome back their former players, but also very excited to see the former television play-by-play announcer.

Barrett and his partner, Mike Rice, were both let go from their positions after the 2015-2016 season. While the news came as a surprise, Barrett said previously he doesn't harness any anger. 

"There was never bitterness about it," Barrett said on The Bridge Podcast last summer. "I was honored to have done it.” 

Now the Managing Director for the Portland Diamond Project, Barrett was honored to represent the 2000s and the Trail Blazers Sunday night. 

"It’s been great," Barrett said of his return to Moda Center. "I think we take for granted in this business sometimes the connectivity and the emotion and the relationship you have with fans. To hear those stories — and then everybody wants to tell you about their favorite call, their favorite game, their favorite team. That part’s been really neat. I probably underestimated how cool that would be."

As fans came up to him on the concourse before the game, Barrett said he also couldn’t help but reminisce about the 2000s.

There was one season that really stood out to him during his 2003-2016 TV gig with the Blazers.

“Travis Outlaw is here and the team in ’07 that had the 13 game winning streak, if you weren’t there, people don’t understand how crazy that was. That team was so young and had drafted Greg Oden and thought they were gonna make the next step, and this team that almost didn’t know what it was doing -- wins thirteen in a row, and I mentioned Travis because he put the cap on win No. 13 in a row. I still remember that,” Barrett said.

From Dec. 3rd through Dec. 30th that 2007-2008 team didn’t lose a game.

That team finished with a .500 record. It was during LaMarcus Aldridge and Brandon Roy’s second season, along with Travis Outlaw, who averaged 13.3 points and 4.6 rebounds that season.

Barrett has always been known for his professionalism along with the wittiness of many great calls. But for MB, the Trail Blazers were, and still are, much more than a job.

The Trail Blazers are his team and they always will be.  

I came to my first game here in about 1973 with my dad. My dad knew Jack Ramsay and then went on to know Rick Adelman and so I was fortunate to get some time at training camp and around some of the coaches. It goes without saying -- it’s my team and it runs deep with me with these guys. That’s the biggest part of being back and celebrating the 50 years. -- Mike Barrett

When Barrett was about to walk off the court after being honored during the first timeout of Sunday’s game, Blazers Head Coach Terry Stotts stopped Barrett to give him a big hug. That hug was followed by a hug from Damian Lillard.

Both the current team and longtime fans alike showered Barrett with love, like they were seeing an old friend after a long absence.

And, like Trail Blazers President Chris McGowan tweeted out about the 2000s celebration –it’s always fun welcoming back players and members of the organization.

Blazer MB will always be part of Rip City.

Hassan Whiteside for Defensive Player of Year? 'Let's talk about it'

Hassan Whiteside for Defensive Player of Year? 'Let's talk about it'

The political season is upon us and the Trail Blazers’ Hassan Whiteside is all set to launch his own campaign.

The “Whiteside for Defensive Player of the Year” express is ready to leave the station and make stops all over the NBA.

And why not?

Just because his team is struggling to stop its opponents doesn’t mean he hasn’t had a very big year in the middle for Portland.

Whiteside is averaging a league-leading 3.1 blocked shots per game and the next closest to him is Brook Lopez, with 2.5.

Is Whiteside worthy of consideration for the award? Well, he certainly believes so.

“I think so. I think so,” he said Sunday night. “Gobert won it because he was leading the league in blocked shots. This is going to be my second time (leading the league). Let’s talk about it.”

Davis, Ben Simmons and Giannis Antetokounmpo have all been mentioned as candidates for this season’s award and they all play for teams with winning records. But historically, the player who leads the league in blocked shots -- particularly if it's by a wide margin -- gets major consideration.

Rim protection is still important in this era of a long-distance shooting.

The Trail Blazers have struggled due to their injuries but Whiteside has provided their only rim protection on most nights.

“The team doesn’t get the award,” he said. “It’s a player award. And as far as blocking shots, there isn’t anybody even close.”

Some might say he’s blocked so many shots because his team’s perimeter defense is porous -- but his block percentage -- the percentage of blocks based on his opportunities -- of 64.8 is one of the best in the league.

Whiteside is actually having a much better overall season than a lot of people know about. He’s flown under the radar, in part because he plays with another superstar and also due to his team’s struggles.

But he ranks 12th in ESPN’s player efficiency ratings, ahead of many of the NBA’s more well-known stars.

Will he win the DPOY? It’s probably not likely, but as he said, “let’s talk about it.”

And he certainly belongs in that conversation.

CJ McCollum shouldering the load with Damian Lillard out

CJ McCollum shouldering the load with Damian Lillard out

The Trail Blazers desperately needed him and CJ McCollum delivered.

He’s done it before, and on much grander stages, but on Sunday night at the Moda Center with his team staring down an ugly loss McCollum put together his best performance season to keep Portland’s playoff aspirations alive.

“He led us,” Carmelo Anthony said. “He led us tonight. He came up big when we needed it, made the right plays. His shot was falling tonight. He put us on his back.”

McCollum scored 41 points, grabbed nine rebounds, and dished out career-high 12 assists, pulling the Blazers back from what would have been a sobering loss to the Detroit Pistons. He played the entire second half, and committed just one turnover despite commanding nearly all of the playmaking duties in his 43 minutes on the court.

Beating a 19-40 Pistons team at home after surrendering a 19-point lead might not land too high on McCollum’s resume, one that includes some monster postseason performances and a Game 7 game-winner on the road last April. But a loss on Sunday would’ve pushed the Blazers' already dicey playoff hopes to the brink. So McCollum came to the rescue again, only this time playing a decidedly different role.

Damian Lillard missed his second straight game against Detroit, which thrust McCollum into lead guard duties away from his comfort zone as a high-scoring second option. For the second straight game without his backcourt partner running the show, McCollum struck an impressive balance between facilitator and his more typical fearless shotmaker.

In two games with Lillard out of the lineup, McCollum is averaging 34.0 points, 7.5 rebounds and 11.0 assists. He says he welcomes the added responsibility.

“I’m ready for whatever honestly.  I’ve always felt like that,” McCollum said. “I work extremely hard on my game. I watch film. I adjust to the situation. I know how to play as the No. 2. I know how to play as other roles. I know how to play as a No. 1. Obviously right now we’re missing 30 points, eight assists, six rebounds. I can’t do it all by myself. I have to have help. I have to empower guys. I have to put people in a position to succeed, and take advantage of everybody’s skill sets, and still play at a certain level individually. I’m fully capable of that. I have all the confidence in the world in this team and myself because I know how much the game means to us.”

The knock on McCollum’s game is that it lacks variety. He can score with a dazzlingly array of dribble moves and counters but on most nights that’s the end of the story. However, McCollum has shouldered his Lillard-less responsibility admirably and he’s filled out the stat sheet in the process.

The Blazers have aided McCollum’s shift in roles. Terry Stotts is calling more plays from the bench than he does when Lillard is commanding the offense, and Lillard has been in McCollum’s ear regularly offering encouragement along with Xs and Os advice.

“He knows my demeanor,” McCollum said, explaining how Lillard has tried to help while sidelined with a groin injury. “He’ll tell you that I don’t lack confidence ever -- regardless of what’s happening. He’s just like, ‘Stay aggressive. When you need to keep the ball, keep the ball. When you need to make plays, make plays early. And then when it’s go time, go.’”

In the fourth quarter Sunday it was time to go. McCollum went. 

He scored 16 of 41 points in the final frame making 5 of 11 shots and working a two-man game with Anthony to guide the Blazers to a crucial comeback win. The scoring was familiar, the table setting was a necessary added wrinkle.

In the locker room afterwards, Trevor Ariza asked McCollum what his career-high was, and McCollum explained he had scored 50 in three quarters against the Bulls a couple season ago.

“I got hot,” McCollum told his new teammate.

“Stay hot,” Ariza instructed him.

To hear McCollum tell it that’s exactly what he plans to do.

“I think I’m built for the long haul,” he said. “Historically I’ve played well in the playoffs. I’ve played well down the stretch of games. Understanding there has to be a sense of urgency. We haven’t played well this entire season and for us to have a chance to make the playoffs I have to be elite, and I’ll do that.”

Blazers needed every bit of Vintage Carmelo Anthony

Blazers needed every bit of Vintage Carmelo Anthony

A jab here, a jab there.

And no, we aren’t talking about punches.

This season, the younger Trail Blazers have gotten a few old man cracks aimed at Carmelo Anthony.

It’s all love, though.

Bring on the jokes because Melo was laughing all the way to a season-high Sunday night.

The Trail Blazers clawed their way back after being down by as many as 10 points in the third quarter to snag a 107-104 victory over the Detroit Pistons Sunday.

Melo’s offensive production along with CJ McCollum’s takeover performance, sprinkled in with timely stops in the fourth quarter all added up to Portland snapping a three-game losing streak.

Anthony finished with 32 points in Sunday’s win, eclipsing his previous season high he set back on Jan. 7 at Toronto with 28 points. 

[RELATED]: Carmelo Anthony turns back the clock against Detroit, does something he hasn't done in three years

And boy was Melo right -- the Blazers required all 32 of those points to get the win.

I’ll tell you, we needed every bit of that. Every single point, we needed that tonight. Those guys just wasn’t trying to go away. After we got out in the first quarter, we kind of let our foot off the gas and those guys got confidence. They gained some momentum, they stuck with it to the end of the game. – Trail Blazers veteran Carmelo Anthony on scoring 30 plus for the first time in nearly three years. -- Carmelo Anthony

With Damian Lillard out for the second straight game with a right groin strain, both Melo and McCollum have stepped up in a big way.

“We have to,” Anthony said. “We don’t have a choice, right? We’ve got to go out there and do what we’ve got to do to help this team win, at least put ourselves in position to try to win a basketball game. At the end of the day, it’s going to come down to us two putting that pressure on us and saying this is what we’ve got to do. It’s the last quarter of the season. We’re in a dog fight trying to get that spot.”

That dog fight has included Gary Trent, Jr. stepping up in a big way on the defensive end. Trent, who was inserted into the starting lineup with Lillard out, admitted he got to see the Melo he grew up admiring.

It’s like vintage Melo tonight. Man, you know, I have flashbacks. I grew up watching him. I love all his moves. I got to see a lot tonight. Big up to Melo. -- Trail Blazers shooting guard Gary Trent Jr. said postgame

“It’s crazy. I play with him on video games,” Trent added. “I watch all his games, all his highlights, his playoff battles with Kobe Bryant in ’09. I watch all of his stuff. It’s crazy. It’s surreal to come into practice every day and watch him, watch how he works, his approach to the game, he’s a true professional.”

Melo’s response of Trent Jr. playing him in NBA 2K:

“I’ve heard it before, but they won’t come to me and say it… It puts things in perspective. It puts a lot of things in perspective to know back then where I was at in my journey to see those guys finding my journey… It comes back full circle. [For Trent Jr.] to make that statement, it makes me proud.”   

Hearing that a second-year player plays him in NBA 2k, might make some people think Anthony would feel old with such a comment.

But, that’s not the case.

Melo was not only proud of that comment from Trent Jr., he was extremely proud of the way the Blazers came together to get the win Sunday night.

Now, who wants to bet Trent, Jr. went home Sunday night and started playing 2K?   

Trail Blazers bench outscored by 60 points and Portland still manages to win

Trail Blazers bench outscored by 60 points and Portland still manages to win

Injuries have been the story for the entire season as far as the Trail Blazers are concerned. And it’s gotten to the point now -- with Damian Lillard sidelined with a groin injury -- that Coach Terry Stotts can’t go to his bench without causing some serious damage.

The Trail Blazers jumped to a 19-point lead just eight minutes into Sunday night’s game with the lowly Detroit Pistons but then Stotts went to his bench.

The lead was still 16 after the first quarter, but with four reserves on the floor at the same time in the second period, bad things began to happen for Portland.

Detroit rattled off 18 of the first 21 points in the quarter and the game was tied and a dogfight the rest of the way.

It took some major heroics -- and major minutes -- from CJ McCollum, Carmelo Anthony and Hassan Whiteside to pull the Trail Blazers out of a 10-point, second-half deficit and into a 107-104 win.

Granted, Detroit got terrific play from its reserves, but the facts were the facts when this one ended:

The Pistons’ bench outscored the Portland bench 70-10.

That was 70-10!

To make up for that, McCollum needed to get 41 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds while playing 43:15. Anthony scored 32 in 37:21. Whiteside totaled 16 points, had 17 rebounds and four blocked shots in 38:26.

McCollum played the entire second half and Whiteside played most of it. And throughout the second half, Stotts kept two starters on the floor at all times, rather than just one, as he did in the first half.

“CJ played the whole second half,” Stotts said. “I don’t like doing that -- it was just one of those games where it was vital he stayed in the game. I don’t plan on doing that. Obviously, the rotation changed the second half.”

Does he plan to make a practice of that?

“Well, if I play them the whole second half I can do that.”

To win against the better teams, he may have to do that.

It was a crazy game in another way, too.

Throughout the first three quarters, Detroit was parading to the foul line and Portland just wasn’t getting there.

After three quarters, the Pistons were 19-20 from the line while the Blazers were a puny 5-9. But it was if somebody flipped a switch and either Portland suddenly started playing much better defense than Detroit or the referees just noticed the imbalance and decided to do something about it.

In the fourth quarter, Portland was 7-10 from the line -- more attempts than the entire game to that point. Meanwhile, the Pistons were 0-0. That’s right, they didn’t get a foul shot in the fourth quarter.

Such things help.

And right now, the Trail Blazers need all the help they can get.

Instant Analysis: CJ McCollum's near triple-double helps lifts Blazers past Pistons

Instant Analysis: CJ McCollum's near triple-double helps lifts Blazers past Pistons

The Trail Blazers game Sunday night honored the 2000s as part of their Decade Nights to celebrate their 50 years as franchise. 

During the first quarter, the Blazers honored Damon Stoudamire, Travis Outlaw, and former TV play-by-play announcer Mike Barrett.

Portland put on a show in the first quarter in front of the 2000s legends.

The Blazers went on a 24-2 run midway through the first quarter, and jumped out to a 40-24 lead after the first 12 minutes.

But, the Blazers lead didn’t last long.

The Pistons started the second quarter on a 16-3 run with Portland’s second unit on the floor and more specifically with CJ McCollum on the bench. McCollum was in takeover mode early as Damian Lillard sat out his second game with a right groin strain.

In the final minute of the third, McCollum scored seven straight points to pull the Blazers within five.

And the Blazers went on a tear to close out the game, outscoring the Pistons 16-4 in the final 5:39.

FINAL BOX SCORE: TRAIL BLAZERS 107, PISTONS 104

Here are three quick takeaways from Sunday’s win:

1. McCollum on a mission

CJ McCollum notched 15 points, five assists, and four rebounds in the 1st quarter.

Portland struggled to score without McCollum or Carmelo Anthony on the floor.  McCollum took it upon himself to fill the scoring void with no Lillard, but he also made sure to get his teammates involved just like he did against the Pelicans Friday night. McCollum dished out 10 assists by the fourth quarter, which tied a career-high. He ended the night with a career-high 12 assists  and 41 points. CJ finished just one rebound shy of a triple-double. 

2. The difference at the free throw line

Detroit was on the attack and it paid off. The Pistons had 11 more made free throws than the Blazers in the first half. Detroit’s free throws helped keep them in the game. The free throw discrepancy continued in the second half. At the end of the third quarter, the Pistons were 19-of-20 from the charity stripe, but did not attempt one in the final quarter. The Trail Blazers attempted 10 free throws in the final quarter, connecting on 12 of 19 in the game.  

3. Bench gives Pistons a boost

Christian Wood, who averages just over 11 points per game, had 16 points heading into the final period, while Brandon Knight added 15 points off the bench. Detroit had three bench players score in double figures through three quarters to the Blazers total of eight-bench-points.   

Up Next: The Trail Blazers host the Boston Celtics Tuesday night when they wrap-up their three-game homestand. Portland and Boston will tip-off at 7:00pm on NBC Sports Northwest and the MyTeams App.

Be sure to check back throughout the night and tomorrow morning for analysis, articles, and videos from the players!