Rapid Reaction: 3 Quick Takeaways from the Trail Blazers win over the Nets

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Rapid Reaction: 3 Quick Takeaways from the Trail Blazers win over the Nets

BROOKLYN -- It was a game that was going to set the tone for the Portland Trail Blazers seven-game road trip, according to Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum and after shaking off the rust; Portland was able to take advantage of the young Nets team.

Both Jusuf Nurkic and Enes Kanter powered their way past Brooklyn to help the Blazers get a win to start the trip.

Final Box Score: Trail Blazers 113, Nets 99

Here are some quick thoughts from the Blazers win over the Nets:

 

1. Kanter imposing his will

Enes Kanter checked in as a Trail Blazer for the first time at the 3:14 mark of the first quarter. He quickly showed Blazers fans what he will bring to this team on the offensive end as Kanter muscled his way past Ed Davis for two back-to-back lay-ins.

The last two days, Kanter has preached that he will bring the energy and against the Nets he showed that energy on both ends. This is a game that Kanter matched up well again with a small frontcourt.

In his first stint as a Trail Blazer, Kanter went 3-for-3 with six points and four rebounds in nine minutes of work.  He made his first seven shots of the game.

2. Going up against Blazers East

Some of Rip City’s fan favorites are now with the Nets and you could tell the former players wanted to take it at their old team.
Midway through the 1st quarter all three former Trail Blazer players were on the court – Allen Crabbe, Shabazz Napier, and Ed Davis.

Shabazz and Davis showed their strong connection early with back-to-back successful pick and roll action. That was the first sign of the element of wanting to play well against your former team. Crabbe was also going hard at CJ McCollum one-on-one early.

Blazers fans should know—Nets fans seem to love/enjoy what all three former Blazers bring to their Nets team.

The second quarter Napier showed off some “Shabazzle Dazzle” with a between the legs pass to Crabbe who calmly knocked down the long three-pointer and the crowd went nuts. Which by the way, I felt like I was at a college game with section 114 chanting and standing for most of the game. It really was like having a student section going crazy for their team.  

Napier had a career-high in assists of a half with eight assists.

 

3. Strong third quarter despite foul trouble

It wasn’t until the second half started the Blazers looked like they were finding their groove on offense. Portland outscored Brooklyn 34-22 in the quarter and that was despite both CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic picking up four fouls each by the eight-minute mark of the third.

The triple-double watch for Damian Lillard started midway through the third as well. With just minutes left in the 3rd period, Lillard had 10poimts, 8 rebounds and 6 assists.

It was one of those off nights for Lillard, but he found different ways to help his team secure a victory.

The Nets made a run at the Blazers to make it a one-point game 7:25 mark in the final quarter after DeMarre Carroll knocked down a jumper, but Portland was able to take care of business down the stretch.

And, this ended up not being the triple-double game for Lillard, but we all know he always wants the win more than the triple-double feat.

NEXT UP: Portland continues its seven-game trip with a stop in Philadelphia for the second game of the road slate. Tip-off between the Blazers and 76ers is set for 10:00am PT with pregame coverage beginning at 9:00am on NBC Sports Northwest.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your Blazers and stream the games easily on your device.

Trail Blazers pass first test without CJ McCollum... Is there reason to rush him back?

Trail Blazers pass first test without CJ McCollum... Is there reason to rush him back?

Energy plays.

Collective play.

Staying ready to shoot.

These are all key components to the Trail Blazers 106-98 victory over the Pacers and Portland’s first game without starting shooting guard CJ McCollum.

Just as Blazers head coach Terry Stotts talked about in his pregame interview, it was a collective group who found themselves getting extra minutes with McCollum out.

Jake Layman got the starting nod in place of McCollum, but then Rodney Hood started the second half.  Hood, Layman and Seth Curry, are all expected to get more minutes with McCollum sidelined.

Also, as expected, Damian Lillard carried the load as he notched his ninth double-double of the season by the end of the third quarter. Lillard finished with 30 points and 15 assists, which is a new season-high in assists and just one shy form tying his career-high.

With 15 assists on the night it shows how the game plan is to play as a team in McCollum’s absence. Lillard discussed how it’s not about playing hero ball during this stretch without his running mate.

“I think having a guy that’s such a huge part of our team go down and not be out there, it’s not gonna be just me going out there trying to be the hero. It’s going to have to be done by committee,” Lillard told Blazers sideline reporter Brooke Olzendam immediately after the game.

“Against a very good team, we had a lot of guys step up. It was really encouraging and that’s how we’re going to have to play,” Lillard added.

ENERGY PLAYS AND CHASE DOWN BLOCKS

Zach Collins also saw the floor more, which proves Coach Stotts is going to fill McCollum’s minutes in a variety of ways. 

Collins made sure to make the most of the opportunity early and Coach Stotts was quick to recognize him postgame.

“Collins came in and made a lot of energy plays. I thought we scored more off of our energy than anything else,” Stotts said.

Even though this is just Collins’ second year in the league, he showed his wisdom in the locker room.

“[CJ] brings so much to our team... We just gotta come together and pick up the slack. Without him on the floor -- that’s a lot of buckets that we have to come up with and obviously, Dame has a lot on his shoulders and now that teams have to focus a lot more on him without CJ, we’ve got to help him out a little bit, just come together” Collins said.

Collins also noted that he always wants to “make energy plays that gets the crowd in to it,” and that’s exactly what he did midway through the second quarter with a chase down block on Tyreke Evans.

So, what goes through Collins’ mind when he’s going up for a chase down block like that?

“Move as fast as I can,” Collins said with a big smile.

“I need to get a little faster, but just try to get there as quickly as I can and try to time it right,” Collins said.

BE READY TO CATCH AND SHOOT

Al-Farouq Aminu picked up some of the scoring slack. He was a perfect 4-for-4 from three in the third quarter as he ignited the Blazers’ offense in the second half.

For Chief, it’s all about making sure he is ready to catch and release.

“Obviously Dame did a good job distributing, making sure everybody got involved… We just gotta continue to be ready to shoot,” Aminu said.

“I think what we did tonight was impressive, to be honest, I’m proud of everybody from top to bottom, the way we were able to step up without CJ and get a quality win,” Aminu added.

Aminu finished 4-for-5 from long distance and 5-for-8 from the field to score 16 points.

It’s all about that Blazer ball movement though.

“We just gotta play the same way and make sure we’re continuing to distribute the ball,” Aminu said.

NO NEED TO RUSH CJ BACK

Before Monday’s game both McCollum and Coach Stotts did not give any type of timetable on McCollum’s return.

Lillard knows one thing though—

He doesn’t want McCollum to hurry back before he’s ready.

Lillard has had this conversation with McCollum about taking his time to get the proper rehab.

“I don’t want [CJ] to have to rush it,” Lillard said. “And, when he does come back, I want him to be himself and be healthy... In my mind we’re going to finish the regular season without him... We’d rather have him healthy and strong for the playoffs.”

Trail Blazers get the most (30 points, 15 assists) out of Damian Lillard's 40 minutes

Trail Blazers get the most (30 points, 15 assists) out of Damian Lillard's 40 minutes

The Trail Blazers managed to hang on for a 106-98 home win over Indiana Monday night… but it wasn’t easy.

Neither, I’m sure, was it easy for Portland to play back-to-back games in New Orleans and San Antonio on Friday and Saturday, then play again Monday.

But that’s the NBA. ESPN needed a game and they must have badly needed it to put a Blazer-Pacer game on the national airwaves.

Damian Lillard delivered this win with a scintillating 30-point, 15-assist performance in 40:10 of very hard work.

Portland Coach Terry Stotts has made it clear he doesn’t want to have to play Lillard 40 minutes every night but he’s in a race for playoff seeding and with it, homecourt advantage.

Winning, obviously, takes precedence. And when the Pacers staged a late-game rally, Lillard was back on the for the finish.

“Dame is special,” Stotts said. “When we got up 21 in the fourth I was feeling comfortable. I think you guys know I’ve been trying to manage his minutes but through this stretch, with the race the way it is, we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do.”

After missing their first nine three-point field goal attempts Saturday night in San Antonio, the Blazers opened the game by missing their first 10 against Indiana.

But then Lillard hit a couple of deep ones to break the ice at the end of the second quarter and Portland connected on 13 of its last 22 after the 0-10 start.

“I think we were getting quality looks,” Lillard said. “We were missing some good looks. That was the encouraging part of it. When it’s going that way, you know they’re going to fall eventually. You’re not just going to keep getting those kind of looks and keep missing them.

“That’s what happened. They just started to fall.”

Lillard did not seem too concerned with what could become a heavier workload with CJ McCollum out of action for several games.

“My rookie year I was playing 40 minutes all the time and that was hard, but I’m physically prepared for it. One thing is that you’re physically prepared for it but mentally, I know how to put myself in certain situations if I feel myself getting a little more tired, I know what actions we can run against what they’re doing so I’m not impacting the play but I’m involved in the play.

“And then on defense, I know when I hear a play call, I know how to position myself so that I know what I have to do. So mentally and physically, I am prepared.”

Lillard hit nine of his 16 shots and four of nine from long range.

After the shaky start, Portland made 46.8 percent of its shots and 13 of 32 from three. Jusuf Nurkic had 18 points and 11 rebounds before fouling out late in the game. And the Blazers got a plus-13 off the bench from Zach Collins, who had a couple of spectacular blocks.

Al-Farouq Aminu chipped in a 4-5 night from the three-point line and ended with 16 points.

Portland plays host to Dallas Wednesday night.

Rapid Reaction: 3 Quick Takeaways from the Trail Blazers win over the Indiana Pacers

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Rapid Reaction: 3 Quick Takeaways from the Trail Blazers win over the Indiana Pacers

The Trail Blazers returned home to face the Indiana Pacers on Monday night, tipping off a four-game homestand. 

Portland entered Monday’s game having won nine straight home games against the Pacers and looked to make it 10 in a row, the Pacers did not make it easy.

This was the Blazers first game without guard CJ McCollum, who will miss at least the next week with a popliteus strain in his left knee.

It was a hard fought game with the Blazers very active on defense. Portland also exploited the smaller Pacers defenders down low and that helped them pull away from the Pacers.

Portland defeated Indiana 106-98. The Blazers improve to 26-9 at home this season.

The Blazers have swept the season series against the Pacers for the second straight season.

Final Box Score: Trail Blazers 106, Pacers 98

Here are some quick thoughts from Portland’s first game of its current four-game homestand:

1.Multiple Blazers getting extra minutes as expected

Just as Blazers' head coach Terry Stotts talked about in his pregame interview, it was a collective group who got extra minutes with McCollum out.

Rodney Hood, Jake Layman, and Seth Curry all played more minutes. Layman got the starting nod, but played the least minutes out of three wings. Hood started the second half. Maybe Stotts will go with Hood on Wednesday to start against the Mavericks after Hood had more of an impact on the offensive end than Layman on Monday night.  

When you have a player who gets 34 to 35 minutes a night, there’s an adjustment period and that was clearly what was going on with the Blazers early. Portland started the game 0-for-10 from three.

Midway through the second quarter, people were most likely saying the Blazers need some #3J.

Damian Lillard got things going from deep at the end of the second quarter and it seemed to be the momentum Portland needed for the second half.

Stotts also talked pregame that there was a chance one of the rookies, Gray Trent Jr. or Anfernee Simons, could also see the floor, but that didn’t happen.

2. Blazer bigs take charge early

Jusuf Nurkic powered his way down low against Myles Turner. He had his way with the smaller defender on offense for most of the night.

If Nurkic hadn’t got into foul trouble early he probably could’ve gone off for 30 points, but after picking up his third foul in the second quarter that disrupted his minutes and his scoring.

Nurkic and Zach Collins saw the floor together for a little bit. The twin towers proved to be too much on defense. By the end of the third quarter, Indiana had just 28 points in the paint.

With Collins getting more minutes, it proves Coach Stotts is going to fill McCollum’s minutes in a variety of ways.  

3. Lillard a passing machine

Damian Lillard notched his ninth double-double of the season by the end of the third quarter.

Whether it was the pick and roll with Nurkic or kicking out to find his teammates in the corner for a three, Lillard was dropping dimes.

Portland's ball movement was on point for most of the game and that is going to be such a necessity with 21.3 points per game from McCollum not an option right now.

Lillard had 14 assists and 24 points after three quarters.  

NEXT UP: Portland continues its four-game homestand with game number two on the slate as the Blazers host the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday at 7:00pm on NBC Sports Northwest. Our pregame coverage starts at 6:00pm.    
Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your Blazers and stream the games easily on your device.

CJ McCollum has done his research and now it's all about rehab

CJ McCollum has done his research and now it's all about rehab

Portland guard CJ McCollum spoke with the media for the first time since being diagnosed with a popliteus strain in his left knee.

For McCollum, it’s about taking it one day at time.

“Just take it day-by-day, rehab and do what they tell me to do, try to do a little bit more each day, working with the range of motion, strengthen some of the muscles around it, and then try and get some of the swelling and stuff like that down a little and go from there,” McCollum said.

It has been three days since McCollum suffered the injury after driving to the basket and landing awkwardly, exhibiting immediate pain. McCollum left the game with 7:08 in the third quarter of Saturday night's loss to the San Antonio Spurs.

Just as several Trail Blazers looked up "a popliteus strain" on Sunday, McCollum has done his research as well. He googled “popliteus“ and found that Kevin Garnett had a similar injury, but as McCollum put it “everybody’s body is different.” Garnett missed 13 games and a total of 21 days with the similar injury. However, Garnett suffered the injury at the age of 33, whereas McCollum is 27 years old, as McCollum said age can clearly play a factor.

“I think just based on the research that’s done, there’s not a lot of injuries like this that have happened, so the timeline is different just depending on the age, you know, how well your body heals, what you’ve done before that and where you’re at, but hopefully I can be back soon rather than later,” McCollum said.

For those who still have not googled the muscle -- The popliteus tendon is a small muscle, which is located at the back of your knee. It is important in unlocking the knee from a fully straightened position and is important for stability around the knee and controlling the shearing forces around the knee. (PhysioWorks)

McCollum doesn’t know if he will be return during the regular season, saying his goal is to come back when he is healthy.

As for the pain right now, it is not constant.

“The pain comes and goes depending on what you’re doing… Certain movements, it’s painful , it’s hard to explain, but it’s just an uncomfortable feeling – like something is pulling the back of your leg,” McCollum said.   

 

McCollum posted to his social media after his diagnosis on Sunday.

There is also concern of coming back too early. McCollum mentioned you never want to rush back.  

“Obviously you want to get back to the court as fast as possible, but one-- you don’t want to be a liability, you don’t’ want to hurt the team, two-- you don’t want to hurt yourself, you don’t want to set yourself back, try to come back to early and hurt something worse… The muscle is more about a time thing,” McCollum said.  

“The muscle is gonna heal at its own rate… I just have to be careful with what I’m doing right now in the first three to five days and then I’ll kind of opening things up as we progress to the seven to 10 day period,” McCollum added.

McCollum said it’s all about working on his “getting his acceleration and deceleration back with the bending of his knee.

He is also trying to rest the knee and changing up his diet in order to strengthening his muscles. McCollum has added more fish oil and a high protein diet.

As for McCollum’s rehab, it includes, “physical therapy in terms of lifting… massage therapy… Did some pool workouts just… working on some different movements that the popliteus affects,” McCollum said.

Hear the entire CJ McCollum interview right here:

Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum to deliver special gift to super fan

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Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum to deliver special gift to super fan

CJ McCollum knows how to treat his fans right.

The Portland Trail Blazers starting shooting guard may not suit up tonight as the Blazers take on the Indiana Pacers, but he still wants to make sure his fans have an enjoyable experience.

When McCollum super fan @TitaniumPanda88 expressed disappointment her favorite player would not take the court for her first Trail Blazers game, McCollum delivered a surprise response. 

McCollum is expected to miss at least the next week as he recovers from a popliteus strain in his left knee. The team’s second-leading scorer sustained the injury in Saturday’s 108-103 loss to the Spurs and had to be helped to the locker room.

Following the game, McCollum underwent X-Rays, which came back negative. An MRI on Sunday indicated McCollum has a popliteus strain in his left knee and he would be sidelined for at least a week before being re-evaluated. Rodney Hood, Seth Curry, Evan Turner and Jake Layman are the most likely candidates to fill-in minutes during McCollum's absence. 

As of Monday, Portland holds down the fourth spot in a tight Western Conference. The Blazers are just 1.5 games behind Houston and a half-game ahead of Oklahoma City with the Pacers, Mavs and Pistons all on the schedule. 

Rip City Rewind: Everything you might have missed as the Blazers fell to the Spurs

Rip City Rewind: Everything you might have missed as the Blazers fell to the Spurs

On the final game of a three-game road trip, the Portland Trail Blazers took on the Spurs in San Antonio. The game was mostly up for grabs until the fourth quarter, when the Spurs got hot down the stretch thanks to sharpshooters Bryn Forbes and Patty Mills.

Damian Lillard led the way for Portland with 34 points, Jusuf Nurkic added 24 points and CJ McCollum had 10 points and five assists before suffering a left leg injury in the third quarter.

Here’s a look at everything you might have missed as the Blazers fell 108-103 to the Spurs.

The Blazers loss to San Antonio wasn’t Portland’s biggest loss of the night.

Guard CJ McCollum suffered a leg injury with less than seven minutes remaining in the third quarter. The shooting guard fell awkwardly to the ground after being blocked by Spurs big Jakob Poeltl. McCollum remained on the ground for several minutes before the Blazers took a full time out and helped McCollum to the locker room.

Jamie Hudson broke down McCollum’s left leg injury following the game: CJ McCollum knows his knee is "not normal" right now

After the loss, McCollum revealed his X-Rays were negative, but he’d be getting an MRI on Sunday. The next day, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN revealed McCollum has a popliteus strain in his left knee.

Peter Socotch took a look at what exactly a “popliteus” strain is, and how much time McCollum could miss on the court: Report: McCollum has left knee popliteus strain

With McCollum expected to miss some time, Dwight Jaynes explored what players are capable of fill-in minutes during McCollum’s absence: Trail Blazers fall, but so does CJ McCollum and what happens if it's a serious injury?

Following the game, Jamie shared her initial reactions to the Blazers loss to the Spurs: Rapid Reaction: 3 Quick Takeaways from the Trail Blazers loss to the San Antonio Spurs

Portland Trail Blazers vs. Indiana Pacers: How and Where to Watch

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Portland Trail Blazers vs. Indiana Pacers: How and Where to Watch

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your Blazers and stream the games easily on your device.


GAME DETAILS

Where to Watch: NBC Sports Northwest

Where to Watch on the go: Stream the game live on the new MyTeams App

Tip-Off Time: 7:30 p.m. 

Point spread: Portland -3.5

NBCS NW Coverage: Blazers Outsiders Pregame Show (7:00 p.m.), Blazers Outsiders Postgame Show (immediately after the game). 

Radio: 620AM Rip City Radio

 

INJURY UPDATES

The Blazers have listed CJ McCollum (left knee) is out for Monday's game vs. Indiana.

[RELATED] Report: McCollum has left knee popliteus strain

For the Pacers, Alize Johnson (G League), Victor Oladipo (right knee), Davon Reed*(G League) and Edmond Sumner (G League) are out.

 

QUICK LINKS

Dwight Jaynes: Trail Blazers fall, but so does CJ McCollum and what happens if it's a serious injury?

Jamie Hudson: CJ McCollum knows his knee is "not normal" right now

VIDEO: HIGHLIGHT: Blazers lose more than a game in San Antonio

VIDEO: CJ McCollum talks after the game about his injury
 

Download the brand new MyTeams app today - This is the app for everything Blazers: games, highlights, articles, podcasts and more from your NBC Sports Northwest Blazers team.

'It’s Authentic Fan Night on March 25th as the Blazers host the Nets. Buy tickets in the official Authentic Fan Section 320 – Gear, Prizes, Shoot Hoops and more!'

Report: McCollum has left knee popliteus strain

Report: McCollum has left knee popliteus strain

Portland guard CJ McCollum has a popliteus strain in his left knee, according to Adrian Wojnarowski. He will be re-examined in a week.

Rip City has been holding their breath since McCollum left the game with 7:08 in the third quarter of Saturday night's loss to the San Antonio Spurs.

On the play McCollum was injured, CJ drove to the basket and landed awkwardly, exhibiting immediate pain. The Trail Blazers' starting shooting guard stayed on the ground in pain for a couple of minutes until he was helped off the court and taken to the locker room.

X-Rays were negative, Terry Stotts announced after the game. McCollum flew back to Portland with the team and had an MRI Sunday where the popliteus strain was revealed.

The popliteus tendon is a small muscle which is located at the back of your knee. It is important in unlocking the knee from a fully straightened position and is important for stability around the knee and controlling the shearing forces around the knee. (PhysioWorks)

Recommended treatment includes:

  • Rest
  • Soft tissue massage
  • Trigger point therapy and soft tissue release
  • Electrotherapy
  • Exercise rehabilitation

The time frame of your recovery will depend on a variety of factors such as age, previous activity level, treatment compliance and the degree/length of your injury.

All be told, the news could have been much worse. 

“Anytime a guy goes down, you’re worried," Stotts said postgame.

"You’re concerned about his health as a person," Damian Lillard said postgame. "Beyond the game, you never want to see that happen and then he’s so big for our team that you just get concerned for that, too.”

The Trail Blazers will certainly miss McCollum and his production while he's sidelined, but they are better set-up than they have been in the past. 

Rodney Hood, Seth Curry, Evan Turner and Jake Layman are capable of fill-in minutes at that spot.

CJ has since posted to social media after his diagnosis:

We'll continue to update this article as more information becomes available. 

Trail Blazers fall, but so does CJ McCollum and what happens if it's a serious injury?

Trail Blazers fall, but so does CJ McCollum and what happens if it's a serious injury?

SAN ANTONIO – Quite obviously, the Trail Blazers took a tough loss to the Spurs Saturday night. It was a game that was up for grabs in the fourth quarter but San Antonio hit big shots down the stretch and Portland did not.

It turned into a 108-103 loss to a team right on the Trail Blazers’ tail in the Western Conference.

But it may not have been the biggest loss of the night for Portland.

Guard CJ McCollum suffered a leg injury with 7:08 left in the third quarter and had to be helped to the locker room. He said afterward that X-rays were negative but that he was to get an MRI Sunday.

The loss of McCollum at this point of the season would be a big blow to the Trail Blazers. The team’s second-leading scorer and backup point guard to Damian Lillard is really not replaceable by anyone on the roster.

That said, this team may be better prepared to play without him that any other previous season.

Rodney Hood, Seth Curry, Evan Turner and Jake Layman are capable of fill-in minutes at that spot. None of them are CJ, but they can give quality minutes in a two-guard-by-committee situation.

“I think we definitely have guys who can come in and make up for the scoring by committee,” Lillard said, “But that means they won’t be in the role that they’re usually in. Either way you slice it, you’re going to be losing something. We’re going to have to lean on each other a little bit more.”

Portland fell behind by 11 early in the second quarter but rallied to halftime and third-quarter leads. Things were holding up OK until the 3:39 mark of the final quarter when Layman was called for a foul on Davis Bertans, who was shooting a three.

The Blazers had big problems with the call and after Bertans nailed all three foul shots, the game was never the same.

“I thought that really changed the momentum of the game,” Coach Terry Stotts said. “We just couldn’t get over it after that.”

Make no mistake, the Trail Blazers’ frustration level is increasing when it comes to officiating. The Spurs shot 30 free throws Saturday night while the Blazers got just 14. 

“The game has gotten more physical coming down the stretch toward the playoffs,” Lillard said. “You know how it is – sometimes as a competitor you see one play get called against you and then it doesn’t get called for you, it’s like it gives you that feeling that ‘I’m being cheated.’

“Even though you know their job is tough, as a competitor that’s what you think.  One time they called an ‘and-1’ when Jake caught an elbow in his face.

“(The referee) said ‘I didn’t see it.’ I told him, 'I was right behind you and I saw it.'

“They’ve got a tough job. The game is so fast it’s easy to miss a play. Sometimes we think we see something as a player and then you look at the replay and you were wrong.”

Still, had the Blazers been able to make shots – particularly from deep – they would have won the game. They made only 7 of 28 from three-point range and almost made up for it with their defense and rebounding.

Now, though, they will sit around Sunday waiting for the results of McCollum’s MRI.

And that will be the most important result to come out of this game against the Spurs.