McCollum's First Triple-Double Lifts Shorthanded Blazers Past Hawks

by Casey Holdahl
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PORTLAND -- The Portland Trail Blazers went over five years without having a player record a triple-double. They’ve now had two players achieve the sought-after statistical benchmark in the last 10 days.

The Trail Blazers started a two-week, four-game homestand with CJ McCollum going for 28 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in 37 minutes for the first triple-double of his career to lead Portland to a 120-111 victory over Atlanta in front of a sellout crowd of 19,969 Saturday night at the Moda Center.

“It’s good to get a win,” said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. “Like we talked about before the game, they’re a young team that plays hard… Obviously CJ was terrific, that might have been his best all-around game this year.”

The Trail Blazers are now 31-20 overall, 21-7 at home 14-3 against teams from the Eastern Conference this season. Portland has won a season-best seven straight games at home and improve to 11-4 in their last 15 contests.

With Damian Lillard sitting out Saturday night’s game with right knee soreness, McCollum wasted no time taking up many of the duties that usually fall to his starting backcourt partner. As Portland’s primary ballhandler and playmaker, McCollum got out to a quick statistical start with 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting from the field, six rebounds and four assists in the first quarter.

“He really set the tone in the first quarter,” said Stotts. “Obviously he ended up with a triple-double, but he had 12, six and four in the first quarter and I thought he really set the tone. Unfortunately we didn’t continue once he went out. I thought he just played the game, but his leadership with Damian out was really important.”

Behind McCollum’s play and leadership, Portland went on an early 17-2 run to take a 24-13 lead with just under five minutes to play in the first quarter. That lead would increase to 13 before Atlanta managed to trim the advantage to 40-30 by the start of the second quarter.

But the game tightened up considerably before the halftime intermission thanks to Portland turning the ball over seven times and Atlanta continuing to play hard despite their record. The Hawks shot 57 percent while holding the Trail Blazers to 35 percent shooting to outscore the home team 34-23 in the second quarter, resulting in Portland entering the intermission trailing 64-63.

After taking turns holding the lead to start the second half, Portland used an 8-0 run to take a 85-75 lead with 4:21 to play. But Atlanta refused to go away, outscoring Portland 15-8 in the final four minutes to cut the lead to 94-90 going into the fourth quarter.

The game remained close for the first half of the fourth, with Vince Carter, who celebrated his 42nd birthday Saturday night, hitting a three with 7:18 to play to cut Portland’s lead to one. But the Trail Blazers would rattle off a 13-0 run, with Seth Curry, who got the start in place of Lillard, scoring 11 of those points, to take a 114-100 lead and control of the game with 2:25 to play in regulation.

“It’s been tough for (Curry) – coming off the bench and playing behind Dame and CJ, and coming into a new team," said Stotts. "All that – it’s been a rough transition but I think he showed tonight what he’s capable of doing. He stepped up, I mean we needed a performance like that from him."

With the game all but decided, all that was left was to see if McCollum, who entered the fourth quarter with 24 points, eight rebounds and eight assists, could secure the rebounds and assists required to log his first triple-double. He grabbed his 10th rebound with 3:49 to play, and got his final assist off a Moe Harkless layup with 38.9 seconds to play to finish off Portland's second triple-double in the last 10 days.

"Honestly, I was just trying to get through the game and get home and relax, watch some Netflix," said McCollum. "But the last couple possessions where I was like, ‘Ah, I’ve got a chance to get it so if the play is there, I’ll throw it, if not, I’m shooting it.’ That’s kind of how I’ve always played. It’s nice to get a triple double but it takes a lot of help from other guys setting screens, sacrificing - and Moe made a good finish because I was about to shoot it. I was like, ‘Oh he’s open.’ So I tried to make the pass."

TOP PERFORMERS

CJ McCollum recorded his first career triple-double, finishing with 28 points (10-23 FG, 2-8 3-PT, 6-7 FT), 10 rebounds and 10 assists to go with one steal. McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic (Jan. 16 vs. Cle.) are the first set of Trail Blazers teammates to have triple-doubles in the same season since Clyde Drexler, Terry Porter and Jerome Kersey did so in the 1988-89 season.

In his second start of the season, Seth Curry scored a season-high 22 points on 8-of-13 shooting (4-8 3-PT, 2-2 FT) to go with three rebounds, two assists and one steal while match-ing his career high with two blocks. The four three-pointers matched his season high.

Jusuf Nurkic had 15 points (4-10 FG, 7-8 FT), nine rebounds, four assists, two steals and three blocks. It was his fifth straight game with at least 15 points. Al-Farouq Aminu logged 17 points (4-5 FG, 2-3 3-PT, 7-7 FT), eight rebounds, four assists, two steals and one block. It was the sixth time in franchise history that a Portland player scored at least 17 points on five field goal attempts or fewer.

Maurice Harkless scored a season-high 16 points (7-11 FG, 1-5 3-PT, 1-2 FT) to go with five rebounds, one steal and one block. It was the sixth time this season that Harkless scored in double figures. Meyers Leonard led the Portland bench in scoring with nine points (3-3 FG, 1-1 3-PT, 2-2 FT) to go with one rebound.

Trae Young scored a game-high 30 points (11-15 FG, 3-6 3-PT, 5-6 FT) to go with two re-bounds, eight assists, one steal and one block.

LISTEN UP

NOTABLE

• The Trail Blazers won their seventh straight game at Moda Center, extending their longest winning streak at Moda Center this season.

• The Trail Blazers outrebounded the Hawks, 47-36, and had 15 second chance points to Atlanta’s eight second chance points.

• Portland shot 50.0% from the field (41-of-82) while the Hawks shot 45.7% from the field (42-of-92). • Portland outscored the Hawks on the fast break, 18-11.

• The Trail Blazers scored 40 points in the first quarter, marking their highest-scoring first quarter of the season.

• Portland shot 27-of-30 from the free throw line (90.0%), while the Hawks made 15 of their 20 free throw attempts (75.0%).

• The Trail Blazers improved to 4-0 when all five starters score in double figures.

• Portland dished out 26 assists, marking the 12th time in the last 15 games that the Trail Blazers recorded at least 25 assists.

QUOTABLE

"It’s nice. I was more happy about the win honestly." -- CJ McCollum on his first triple-double

NEXT UP

After Saturday night’s victory, the Trail Blazers now begin a stretch in which they play just one game over the course of nine days. That one game is versus the Utah Jazz Wednesday night at the Moda Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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