Trail Blazers

McCollum is scoring at an elite level, but credits Blazers' defense in win over Kings

Trail Blazers
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Maybe it was an offseason of rehab on his fractured back that did CJ McCollum good. 

Perhaps, it’s married life that has helped McCollum take his game to the next level after tying the knot with his longtime girlfriend this past fall.

Or, maybe it’s having another year under his belt of hard work and preparation as to why McCollum has been nearly unstoppable on offense so far this season. 

But really, it’s probably -- D. All of the above.

In Saturday’s 125-99 blowout victory over the Sacramento Kings, McCollum was on a different level from the jump.

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During his first eight minutes of action, he scored 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting.  

After notching 22 points in 20 minutes played, McCollum hit a big milestone. The 29-year-old shooting guard passed Rasheed Wallace to claim the No.10 spot on Portland’s all-time scoring list.

 

Through nine games, McCollum is shooting 44.4 percent from three to help with his scoring average of 27.8 points.  

Saturday night though, McCollum got it done on both ends of the floor. He recorded 16 points and two steals by halftime.

McCollum credits the team's defense as Portland improved to 5-4 on the year. 

It started with the defensive end. We did a great job of applying pressure of rotating and preventing most of the transition baskets early.

CJ McCollum told Trail Blazers sideline reporter Brooke Olzendam after Saturday’s win

Portlands head coach Terry Stotts echoed those same sentiments.

I really like our team defense in generalI thought [Jusuf Nurkic] and Enes [Kanter] did a good job protecting the lane. I thought we were locked in on our defensive schemes whether it was switching or blitzing or sending them in a certain direction. I thought this was one of our better nights of locking in on game plans. 

While much of the postgame chatter Saturday was about the team's defensive performance and the progress being made on that end of the floor, it has been McCollum's consistent offense and elite three-point shooting that has been a big storyline to start the year. 

In the win, McCollum finished with a game-high 37 points while shooting 6-of-11 from long distance. 

With McCollum’s six threes Saturday, he leads the league in threes made ahead of Steph Curry and his backcourt mate Damian Lillard while shooting over 43 percent from deep to start the season.

As McCollum also became the 10th leading scorer in franchise history to pass Rasheed Wallace on the list, the Blazers starting two-guard said it was a big honor and he also, of course, had to mention, ball dont lie.

 

It’s really cool, man. I grew up watching Sheed playing in the Air Force 1s with the straps on the back --‘Ball don’t lie’ stuff -- we still use that to this day. So it’s an honor to be in the same conversation as someone like him who was so dominant and influential in the game.

CJ McCollum said postgame

That’s right, the Ball don’t lie… and McCollum’s numbers don’t lie either.