A small-ball lineup for the Trail Blazers is a recipe for clutch shooting. And for opposing teams, it's a deadly combination.
Whether it was Damian Lillard or Carmelo Anthony from deep, the Trail Blazers proved once again they have shooters who can come up big down the stretch.
The Raptors were faced with that reality in the fourth quarter on Monday night's game just how lethal Portland’s clutch shooters can be.
It was also fitting for CJ McCollum to be the one to finish off the game with a go-ahead mid-range jumper after the way he has started the season averaging 27.9 points a night.
And if it wasn’t clear who Portland’s center was at certain points in the game during Monday’s 112-111 come from behind victory over Toronto, it’s because as Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts said, there really wasn’t one, at times.
While being forced to experiment with different lineups once starting center Jusuf Nurkic left the game with a left quad contusion, Portland went with the smaller lineup more often than not.
And with that, the Blazers once again saw McCollum rise up to the occasion.
The eighth-year guard feasted from three all night and then he made dinner plans with a mid-range jumper to end the game.
“I’ve always figured out ways to eat and I think that’s what best describes me. Sharks just go hunt. They don’t worry about anything,” McCollum said following the win.
But how do sharks feel about baby food?
Wait… No, this is a different comparison.
McCollum described how he was able to shake Fred VanVleet, saying, “I wanted to get him moving in each direction. VanVleet’s a great defender, but he’s smaller. So you’ve got to move the smaller defender before you move to spots.”
So now can we add ‘baby food move McCollum’ to the list of nicknames for ‘3J McCollum.’
We’ll see if that catches on.
But speaking of 3J, some may wonder why McCollum didn’t take a dagger three instead of a 17-foot pull-up, especially the way he's shooting the rock from behind the arc this year?
Easy -- McCollum knows where he is most comfortable.
In Monday’s win, McCollum finished with 30 points and went 5-of-11 from three.
The Blazers big three of shooters undoubtedly came up big, but a lot of credit also needs to be given to Robert Covington and his defense on the final possession to stop Pascal Siakam from finishing with the game-winner.
McCollum recognized that.
“He got a big stop down the stretch. He didn’t want to switch. He didn’t want no help. He wanted to take on that responsibility,” McCollum said of RoCo’s defensive stop."
Who else believes Covington could also be considered a shark for wanting to stop opponents from having baby food moments?
Okay, either way, the Trail Blazers now improve to 6-4 and are riding a three-game winning streak thanks to their sharks and shooters.