About Last Night

About Last Night: McCollum catches fire to spark Blazers

McCollum heats up in L.A., LeBron puts on show in Chicago, West playoff picture tightens up

C.J. McCollum is on a roll, and Tuesday night saw him catch fire to save the Trail Blazers in Los Angeles.

McCollum took over in the fourth quarter, scoring 23 of his 35 in the period to help the Blazers beat the Clippers 125-104 and strengthen their bid for home-court advantage in the Western Conference.

After missing his first seven shots of the game, McCollum heated up in the fourth, going 8-for-9 from the field, hitting all four 3-point attempts and helping Portland pull away from the Clippers, who had their five-game winning streak snapped. In one stretch, McCollum scored 13 straight points during a 15-3 outburst that put the game away.

“I don’t doubt myself when I’m missing shots,” McCollum said in a postgame on-court interview.

But McCollum perked up noticeably when asked about another topic – the Cleveland Browns’ reported trade for star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. McCollum, an Ohio native and big Browns fan, sees good things on the horizon for his favorite NFL team.

“We’ve been struggling on Sundays for a long time now,” McCollum said in a postgame interview. “This last year we turned it around. I’m looking forward to the future. It’s very bright. … OBJ, welcome! … Let’s get it!”

With 15 games left in the season, the future is looking bright for the Trail Blazers, as well. They currently sit fifth in the West with an identical record to the Thunder and just a game behind the Rockets at No. 3.

Check out all the highlights from McCollum’s big night:

LeBron takes flight in Chicago

With the banged-up Lakers mired in a five-game losing streak, the Lakers needed LeBron James on Tuesday night. And boy did he step up.

James scored 36 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to help the Lakers rally from a 20-point deficit to beat Chicago 123-107 to end their slide.

With the Lakers’ playoff hopes on life support, LeBron played 33 minutes and threw down a ferocious reverse dunk from a Josh Hart off-the-backboard pass that virtually sealed the win.

Leave it to NBAE photographer Nathaniel S. Butler to capture the moment perfectly:

And that might not have been LeBron’s best dunk of the night. Earlier in the game, LeBron finished off an incredible lead pass from Kyle Kuzma, catching the full-court feed off the bounce for another killer reverse.

Dunk of the Night

Wolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns had one of the more powerful slams of the night, throwing down this beauty in the Wolves’ 133-107 loss to the Nuggets:

Worth the wait, Part II

The feel-good moment of the night goes to Lakers guard Andre Ingram, who received a warm welcome when he checked into the game in Chicago.

Ingram, of course, is the 33-year-old journeyman who grabbed headlines last April by playing his first NBA game after spending 10 years grinding in the NBA G League. Ingram scored five points in that contest, igniting the crowd with his feel-good story.

Tuesday, Ingram played just two minutes – missing his only shot — in the Lakers’ 123-107 win over the Bulls, but the impact of Ingram’s story clearly resonates around the entire NBA.

Solid play of the night

Here’s reason No. 23,456 why the Pacers are currently fourth in the East despite losing All-Star Victor Oladipo to a season-ending leg injury:

Myles Turner showing some hustle, and Thaddeus Young dropping a slick dime to a cutting Darren Collison. The Pacers stopped a two-game slide by beating the Knicks 103-98 to strengthen their grip on the No. 4 seed in the East and stay even with Philly at 43-25.

Anything you can do …

Or rather, anything Ben Simmons can do …

Joel Embiid can do better …

Philly needed everything from its pair of stars Tuesday in a 106-99 win over the Cavs. Simmons scored 26 with 10 points and eight assist, while Embiid added 17 points and 19 rebounds as the Sixers eked one out at home.

Vintage Dirk

It never gets old:

And neither do shots of Nowitzki’s fabulous locks through the years:

Well, at least there’s that

Luka Doncic had one of the worst nights of his young career, but this pass is worth another look:

Doncic finished with 12 points on 5-for-18 shooting from the field and made just 1 of 9 from the free throw line in the Mavericks’ 112-105 loss to the Spurs. Doncic also had nine turnovers as he started despite a strained knee.

If the playoffs started today …

After tonight’s action, here’s how the matchups would break down: