Blazers Start Road Trip With Victory In Memphis

by Casey Holdahl
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MEMPHIS -- The first time the Trail Blazers and Grizzlies faced off this season, CJ McCollum missed what would have been a game-winning jumper of the front iron in the waning moments of the contest, resulting in a 97-96 loss at the Moda Center.

McCollum wasn't about to let the same thing happen in the second meeting at FedEx Forum.

The 6-4 guard in his fifth season out of Lehigh canned a 22-foot pullup jumper with 35 seconds to play to ice a 100-92 victory against the Grizzlies in front of a crowd of 15,785 Monday night in Memphis.

"You've just got to have that mentality to where you don't really fear missing shots, you don't let it faze you," said McCollum. "You work on your stuff, you get to your spots and you live or die with the result and that's just kind of where I'm at. I told them I wasn't planning on missing two in a row and if I did miss two in a row, it wasn't going to be short."

The Trail Blazers are now 10-7 overall and 3-3 on the road this season. The victory is their first on the road since the first week of the regular season.

"It was good to grind one out," said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. "It's always difficult to play here, seems like the games here are always a grind it out, low possession, low field goal percentage games. In some ways it was similar to our first game except we made some big plays down the end."

It looked like Portland might not make any plays, let alone big ones, in the first few minutes of Monday night's game. They went the first three and a half minutes of the game without a field goal and found themselves down by as many as nine in the first quarter didn't net their first field goal, though 11 points from McCollum would help Portland enter the second quarter trailing only by one.  

Portland used a 24-5 run in the second quarter to take a 41-29 lead and control of the game with 5:19 to play in the first half. The Trail Blazers would eventually take a 55-46 lead into the intermission, though after Damian Lillard badly rolled his ankle near the end of the second quarter and went to the locker room early, there was reason to believe the second half might not go Portland's way.

"They did all kinds of different tape jobs on it and we went back out there and tried it," said Lillard. "I was able to at least get something done."

Lillard returned from the locker room to start the second half, but the Grizzlies went on a 12-0 run of their own to tie the game at 67-67 late in the third quarter. Despite going a long stretch without scoring, Portland would take a 72-71 lead into the fourth quarter.

The game would remain close for the final 12 minutes, but the Trail Blazers managed to rattle off a 12-4 run late in the fourth quarter, capped by McCollum's jumper, to come away with the victory.

McCollum led all scorers with 24 points on 8-of-17 shooting and eight rebounds in 34 minutes. Damian Lillard rolled his ankle late in the second quarter but managed to play his regular minutes in the second half to finish with 21 points, four assists and three rebounds in 34 minutes.

Noah Vonleh, who once again started at power forward, had one of his best games as a Trail Blazer in the win, finishing with a double-double of 11 points, 18 rebounds and three blocks.

"I thought offensively he played along the baseline really well and was able to finish, especially in the second half," said Stotts of Vonleh. "His defensive rebounding was really important for us. He went after it, got some man-sized rebounds for us."

Shabazz Napier continued to show he deserves minutes off the bench, finishing with 16 points, four rebounds and three assists in 27 minutes.

The Grizzlies were led by Mario Chalmers, who finished with 21 points. Tyreke Evans came off the bench to add 20.

Next up, the Trail Blazers head further east for a slate of four games versus Eastern Conference opponents starting Tuesday night in Philadelphia versus the 76ers. Tipoff is scheduled for 4 p.m.