McCollum Shows Up Big To Beat Bucks

by Casey Holdahl
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PORTLAND -- After struggling, at least by his standards, in the first 10 games of the season, one of the main questions going into the fourth week of the regular season was "What's wrong with CJ McCollum?"

In Tuesday night's game, we got an answer: not a damn thing.

McCollum went 17-of-26 from the field and 5-of-10 from three for 40 points to go with six assists and five rebounds to help the Trail Blazers defeat the Bucks 118-103 in front of a sellout crowd of 19,512 at the Moda Center.

"I think I just played a complete game, I think that was the biggest thing for me," said McCollum. "Just get to my spots, live with the results and just try to make the right passes."

The Trail Blazers are now 8-3 overall and 5-2 at home this season. The victory also ends a four-game losing streak to Milwaukee and ensures the Bucks won't sweep the season series for the third consecutive season.

"It was big, we needed it," said McCollum. "They’re a very good team, playing extremely well. Obviously Giannis (Antetokounmpo) spearheads them, they shoot a lot of threes, make a lot of threes, so it was a challenging game for us – spread out and took advantage of it. We felt like we shouldn’t have lost to the Wizards earlier on in the season and we took advantage of this game, and we want to take advantage of the rest of our homestand."

While McCollum would end the game as easily the most dominant scorer on the floor Thursday night, it looked as though he might have had quite a bit of competion for that designation in the early going. Damian Lillard started the game by hitting back-to-back threes followed by McCollum, Jake Layman, Al-Farouq Aminu and Zach Collins all scoring from three before the end of the quarter.

But the Bucks were also up to the task, going 6-of-12 from three and 12-of-24 from the field. So even with Lillard putting up 11 of his 13 points in the first quarter, the Trail Blazers only managed to take a 33-31 lead into the second quarter.

But after a sleepy second quarter, McCollum came to life after the intermission. The 6-3 guard out of Lehigh scored the first six points of the quarter for Portland and eventually finished the third with 19 points on 9-of-11 shooting to tilt the scales in the home team's advantage.

"(McCollum) was unreal," said Evan Turner. "Big night. He did a great job all around, started off in attack mode. I think he started from start to finish – the first half, he did a great job, came out to start the second half, our bigs set some great screens and he got it going from there and just gave them hell."

But even with McCollum's heroics, the Bucks still managed to keep it close going into the home stretch. Portland's lead was cut to five after a Tony Snell three-pointer with 7:13 to play, at which point it looked as though the Trail Blazers might have a close finish on their hands.

But Portland finished the game on a 20-10 run to come away with the 15-point victory while handing Milwaukee just their second loss of the season.

"Really good win against a really good team," said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. "I’m really proud of the way we played. Obviously CJ was outstanding offensively. I thought Evan Turner and Farouq really worked all game long to make it as difficult as they could on Giannis. I thought the defensive job that we did as a team was the key. We did a lot of good things. CJ was the obvious thing, but I thought we made some clutch shots when Dame and CJ were on the bench to kind of keep us in the game. Evan hit a big three, Chief hit a big three, so it was a good team win."

TOP PERFORMERS

CJ McCollum led all scorers wit 40 points, the most a Trail Blazer has ever scored against the Bucks, to with with six assists, five rebounds and four steals in just under 36 minutes, joining only Clyde Drexler and Damian Lillard as players to achieve such a stat line in franchise history. It was the fourth time in his career that McCollum has scored at least 40 points.

Evan Turner had his best statistical game of the season, finishing with 16 points on 7-of-12 shooting, 11 rebounds, four assists and a steal in 31 minutes, making him just the second player to post those statistics off the bench this season.

Jusuf Nurkić went for 12 points, eight rebounds and six assists in 24 minutes. Damian Lillard added 13 points and six rebounds in 36 minutes and Jake Layman rounded out Portland's double digit scorers with 10 points on 4-of-9 shooting.

Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Bucks with 23 points, while Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez each added 22 points. No other Milwaukee player finished with more than eight points.

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NOTABLE

• The Trail Blazers shot 17-of-43 from the three-point line (39.5%) while the Bucks shot 16-of-42 from deep (38.1%).

• Seven different Portland players made a three-pointer, with six players making at least two.

• Portland’s reserves outscored the Milwaukee bench, 35-27.

• The Trail Blazers outrebounded the Bucks, 51-42.

• Portland recorded seven blocks and three steals while Milwaukee finished with two steals and one block.

• Portland connected on 48 field goals (of 91, 52.7%), which tied the most field goals the Trail Blazers have made this season.

QUOTABLE

"They basically had (Donte DiVincenzp) out there on an island and that's not where you want to be with CJ. It's not where you want to be." -- Damian Lillard on CJ McCollum's crossover in the fourth quarter

NEXT UP

The Trail Blazers host the LA Clippers Thursday night in the fifth game of a six-game homestand. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.