2019 NBA Playoffs

About Last Night: Blazers still trying, now winning

The Portland Trail Blazers’ early-round frustrations are well documented, and due at least — in part — to unlucky draws. Portland’s 2016 and 2017 postseason runs both ended at the hands of the Golden State Warriors, understandable losses to all but the most stubborn.

One such fan reprimanded CJ McCollum in 2018, when the Blazers guard defended himself and his team on Twitter by reminding his followers of Golden State’s overwhelming talent. Twitter user Jennifer Williams promptly told McCollum, “Win a playoff game, then talk.”

If McCollum was angered by the mandate, he didn’t show it. Instead he simply reassured her, tweeting, “I’m trying, Jennifer.”

Those three words of honesty became a viral sensation, one that wasn’t forgotten by ESPN’s Royce Young following Portland’s Game 1 victory over Oklahoma City on Sunday. Young asked McCollum if he had anything to say to Jennifer following the win, to which the Blazers’ guard responded with heartfelt laughter.

As video of the exchange went viral, Jennifer made sure to take credit for “inspiring” McCollum and the Blazers in their postseason opener.

McCollum, who scored 24 points in the victory, is still enjoying the exchange with the maximum amount of good grace.

The Greek god

The free-throw line is hallowed ground to NBA dunkers. Giannis Antetokounmpo joins the immortal athletes that have made that line their own personal springboard.

Not since Michael Jordan and Clyde Drexler have we seen such an absurd long-jump defiance of gravity. The play punctuated Milwaukee’s 35-point Game 1 win over Detroit, the Bucks’ largest postseason win since 1971.

Third-quarter drought

If all you knew about the Celtics’ 84-74 Game 1 victory over the Pacers is the final score, you wouldn’t realize it essentially was a blowout. Indiana’s performance in the third quarter of the physical, low-scoring affair erased the Pacers’ hopes of stealing a game in Boston.

With the Pacers up 45-38 at halftime, they managed only eight points in the third quarter.

Boston scored 26 and cruised the rest of the way in a game that wasn’t as close as the final score indicates. How bad was the third and the early fourth? Well, Pacers starters had scored only one point in the second half until well into the fourth quarter. The Pacers didn’t make a single 3-pointer in the third.

The eight-point quarter marked a postseason franchise low for Indiana. But it’s not a NBA-record low. The New Jersey Nets scored six points in a quarter against Cleveland on May 16, 2007. And several others teams have managed only seven or eight in a quarter since then.

The 74-point total is the lowest of the season for the Pacers, who shot 33.3 percent — also a season low.

James, James, James!

I mean, if you’re not gonna ask Chris Paul a question, why ask him to come up to the podium at all? Clearly, that’s what Paul thought before leaving Harden to his adoring reporters following Houston’s Game 1 win over Utah.

Playoff hustle

The Pacers’ Thaddeus Young ran half court for a chase-down block on the Celtics’ Al Horford, who had received a long outlet pass in transition in the second quarter.

Hug for high tops

James Harden’s offer was simple: I give you these autographed shoes, you give me a hug.

The little girl complied. Moment made.

Another Curry Brothers’ chapter

For the first time, both Stephen Curry and brother Seth are both in the playoffs. This is piling up the travel miles for their parents.