Photo / Bruce Ely

Hot Hands of McCollum, Crabbe Carry Blazers to Stotts' 200th Win

by Cody Sharrett

Over nine inches of snow, last-minute travel changes and a near-sleepless night in Seattle couldn’t deny Terry Stotts his 200th win as head coach of the Portland Trail Blazers. After snow blanketed the Rose City to provide a nightmare travel scenario that saw the team land in Portland early Wednesday afternoon, the Trail Blazers (18-23) bested the defending NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers (28-10), 102-86, in front of die-hard sellout of 19,393 fans that braved the conditions to get to Moda Center. 

"I thought it showed a lot of character of our team," Stotts said of the accomplishment. "Obviously the travel – Cleveland had a lot of travel too – but to win the game last night, go through what we did today and beat one of the best teams in the league, that was a special game.I’m proud of our guys, how they played and how they competed all four quarters.

"Defensively it was one of our better games and to do it against a team like Cleveland makes it even better.”

Blazers guard CJ McCollum continued his tear to begin 2017, scoring 27 points on 11-of-20 shooting to lead the Blazers to victory. The Northeast Ohio native has now scored over 25 points in each the last seven games -- the first Blazer to accomplish that feat since Clyde Drexler. Two games after registering a career-high 30 points on Sunday, Allen Crabbe -- who was drafted by the Cavaliers in 2013 and dealt to Portland on draft night -- finished with 24 points on 9-of-11 shooting. 

Al-Farouq Aminu scored eight points in the first quarter to help the Blazers to a 27-20 advantage after 12 minutes. The Blazers would start the second stanza on a 15-4 run sparked by Crabbe’s 12 points in the quarter. The Cavaliers would close the half on an 11-2 run to go into the break trailing Portland, 49-41. 

McCollum scored 10 of the Blazers first 14 points of the second half, helping extend the home team’s lead to 18 points. An eight-point surge from LeBron James at the end of the quarter would cut the Blazers lead to 73-61 going into the fourth quarter. McCollum, once again couldn’t be stopped by the Cavalier defense in the fourth as the 6-4 combo guard out of Lehigh netted 11 points in the final period to seal the win for the home team.

The Blazers forced 16 turnovers out of the Cavaliers, including five from James, and held Cleveland to 34% shooting from the field and 30% from behind the three-point range. Offensively, Aminu finished with a double of 11 points and 12 rebounds while Damian Lillard scored 14 points in the Blazer win. Evan Turner recorded a season-high 11 assists to go with eight rebounds on the evening. Overall, the Blazers shot 43% from the field and 33% from deep. 

“We defended for a full game," Lillard said of the defensive performance. "From the start of the game, they scored 20 in the first quarter and from that point on, we sustained that level of focus and energy on that end of the floor against a really good offensive team. They had 80 on us the first time we played them in one half and we did a much better job tonight, so I was proud of how consistent we were.”

James led the Cavs with 20 points to go with 11 rebounds. Lake Oswego native Kevin Love scored 17 points and grabbed eight rebounds in Cleveland’s defeat. 

Up next, the Blazers host the Orlando Magic at Moda Center on Friday. The Cavaliers continue a 10-day road trip by traveling to Sacramento to meet the Kings on Friday.