CJ Gets Another One

by Casey Holdahl
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Though his crossover of rookie Donte DiVincenzo will be the stuff of highlight legend for the foreseeable future, Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum actually missed his first opportunity to add another befuddled defender to his list of victims early on in Tuesday night’s 118-103 victory versus the Bucks at the Moda Center.

It was midway through the first quarter when DiVincenzo, 17th overall pick of the 2018 NBA Draft out of Villanova, checked in for the first time for Malcom Brogdon. On his first defensive possession, he picked up McCollum at the three-point line near Milwaukee’s bench and started to get into a defensive stance. But with McCollum already coming downhill, the rookie made a crucial mistake by setting his feet too far apart, leaving him suseptaable to being crossed over, especially by a ball handling impresario like McCollum.

And that’s exactly what happened. McCollum recognized immediately that his defender was off balance and took advantage of the misstep by using a hard right-to-left dribble, spinning DiVincenzo around a full 360 degrees, though the rookie did to a good job of making it look as though the move was a planned defensive tactic rather than a potential embarrassment.

But McCollum’s shot attempt after putting DiVincenzo in the spin cycle bounced off the rim, ruining what would have been a spectacular highlight.

He would not make the same mistake again.

With DiVinenczo pressed against him late in the third quarter, McCollum took full advantage of the aggressive posturing by putting his head down and driving into the pressure, only to pull back just before the free throw line, sending the rookie guard sliding to the floor and the Trail Blazers’ bench into hysterics.

“I think usually when a guy is one-on-one at the top of the key, his teammates stay at the boxes and at the elbows ready to help,” said Damian Lillard. “But we was talking about it, me and Chief was both in the corner, like buried deep in the corner and our mans was hugging us. They basically had (DiVincenzo) out there on an island, and that's not where you want to be with CJ. That's not where you want to be.”

And this time, rather than stepping back into a long two, McCollum took a dribbled to the side of DiVinecenzo, who had all four on the floor as he tried to regain his balance, and raised up for the floater, which found the mark, ensuring that this highlight would not go to waste.

“I just was trying to get some space,” said McCollum. “He was forcing me left, so I went left, tried to snatch back hesi. He slipped or whatever, fell down. The first possession when he came in I did a right to left crossover. He turned around and I should have went to the hole, I shot a jumper. So I figured this time I'd try to get to about eight feet, get a floater off.”