Trail Blazers

CJ McCollum looked like his old self against the Dallas Mavericks

Trail Blazers
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What a week it has been for the Portland Trail Blazers.

Three-straight wins with two victories over the Pelicans and now nail-biting win over the Dallas Mavericks.

But it has been the return of their healthy shooting guard who has brought a lot of positive vibes and now his hot shooting is back. 

Tuesday night, CJ McCollum made his return from a two-month layoff following a fractured left midfoot. He finished 3-of-11 from the floor and then followed that up with a 3-of-16 shooting night on Thursday.

But Friday night, look out because it was the old CJ McCollum.

Behind McCollum's hot shooting, the Blazers defeated the Mavericks, 125-119

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It just took a couple of games for him to find his rhythm.

 

Or as McCollum said with a smile, “after I was playing like s***?”

The eight-year veteran was dialed in from three, crafty on the midrange, and looked to attack the rim when the lane was open. In his third game back, McCollum notched 32 points on 11-of-23 shooting, including 7-for-13 from deep.

“That was my ninth time playing basketball since Jan. 16, so it takes time to find your rhythm especially in this type of season, so I just had to be patient.”

And hey, three games doesn’t seem like a long wait at all.

Yet he had some convincing to do with his head coach in order to see the floor Friday. 

I honestly wasn’t supposed to play a back-to-back, but… I talked him off a ledge and convinced him that I could bite the bullet on the 20 minutes and then they said they would see how I felt and then I talked them into more than 25 minutes tonight.

CJ McCollum

And how could the Blazers not play him more than 25 minutes with the performance he had? 

McCollum is confident he’ll be able to play 30-plus minutes starting with Sunday’s game against these same Dallas Mavericks.

Between Damian Lillard’s side step three-pointers and McCollum’s rhythm-threes, the Trail Blazers took a 37-33 first quarter lead. 

But when the second quarter hit, it was the CJ McCollum show. 

McCollum notched 16-first-half points in just 13 minutes of play.

Portland’s head coach Terry Stotts, who earned his 500th career win with Friday’s victory, says McCollum was still on a minutes restriction, but Stotts believes Friday will be the final night for a limited McCollum.  

Coach Stotts also mentioned he was happy for his starting shooting guard and happy for the team that McCollum, who was having the best start to his career before the injury, is back.  

 

He looked like CJ… We had him on a minutes restriction, otherwise who knows what he could’ve done.

Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts

From the outside looking in, it seems it took McCollum just three games to completely find his rhythm again, but Robert Covington knows that his teammate is not there yet.

"He’s not all the way back just yet. He’s still got to get a couple more games under his belt," Covington said. 

Covington also explained how having McCollum back not only puts more pressure on their opponents’ defense while allowing Lillard a little more space, it also allows Gary Trent Jr. to go back to being a spark off the bench.

“It gives us that threat back and adds another threat to make us deeper,” Covington added.

And don’t forget, Jusuf Nurkic is set to make his return next week.

Adding yet another threat.