MINNEAPOLIS -- Portland Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts was asked about the recent play of point guard C.J. McCollum before a New Year's Day meeting with the Minnesota Timberwolves. "I don't know how much more C.J. can do," Stotts said. A few hours later, McCollum showed him. McCollum scored a career-high 43 points to lead the Trail Blazers to a 95-89 victory over the Timberwolves. "Obviously, C.J. had an outstanding game," Stotts said. "I thought Mason Plumlee (18 points, eight rebounds) was really, really good in his trapping and energy defensively." McCollum surpassed his previous career high of 37 points set in two previous games. He made 16 of 25 shots from the field, setting a career high for field goals. Minnesota guard Kris Dunn played more than 21 minutes off the bench and spent a good portion of that time guarding McCollum. "He can shoot the ball," Dunn said. "The three, the midrange, he can drive it to the basket. When somebody can do all of those things, you've just got to try and find a couple of things to take away from him. He got it going today so it was kind of hard." It was the seventh time that McCollum scored at least 30 points this season and fourth straight game over 20 in place of Damian Lillard (left ankle sprain). McCollum is averaging 27.1 points in his last eight games. Andrew Wiggins led the Timberwolves with 24 points. Minnesota's young trio of Wiggins, Karl-Anthony Towns and Zach LaVine combined for 48 points after getting 73 on Friday against Milwaukee. Towns finished with 11 points, 13 rebounds and six assists for his fourth straight double-double and 24th of the season. Portland quickly rallied from a 12-point halftime deficit with a 14-2 run to tie the score at 51 on a McCollum's jumper. McCollum scored 16 points in the third qyarter and the Trail Blazers took a 69-64 lead into the fourth. "I was disappointed in some of our (defensive) execution, particularly in the first half," Stotts said. "But we really responded after halftime." Portland never trailed in the fourth quarter and led by as many as eight points in the final 12 minutes. LaVine's 3-pointer with 54 seconds to go got Minnesota within four at 91-87, but McCollum hit a jumper 20 seconds later and the Blazers finished the game at the line. Minnesota coach Tom Thibodeau labeled the third quarter "just a total breakdown." "The thing that is concerning is the big halftime leads that we don't protect and we don't come out with the urgency and the understanding of playing a whole 48 minutes and how important that is and how hard you have to play," he said. McCollum scored 13 points and made 5 of 6 shots from the field as Portland opened a one-point lead after the first quarter. Minnesota began the second quarter with a 13-4 run and stretched the lead to 14 before finishing the half ahead 49-37. Minnesota's Shabazz Muhammed was a force off the bench in the first half for a second straight game with 10 points after scoring 17 of his 22 points against Milwaukee on Friday after two quarters. Dunn's seven-point half gave Minnesota 17-5 advantage off the bench and helped Minnesota's reserves to a 28-14 edge in the game over Portland's reserves. McCollum was asked what he's going to remember most from his 43-point performance. "We won, that's the biggest thing for me," he said. NOTES: Minnesota's Karl-Anthony Towns has a double-double in each of his five career games against Portland. He averaged 21.5 points and 10 rebounds in four games against the Trail Blazers last season. ... Portland was without PG Damian Lillard (left ankle sprain) for the fourth straight game. Lillard scored at least 20 points in six of his past nine games against Minnesota (four games of 30-plus points). ... With six 3-pointers on Friday, Minnesota's Zach LaVine set a franchise record for 3-pointers made in a month with 53, eclipsing Kevin Love's 48 in March 2012. LaVine's eight games with five or more made 3-pointers is second only to Golden State's Stephen Curry (10) in the NBA this season. ... Portland concludes a three-game road trip on Wednesday at Golden State. Minnesota travels to Philadelphia for a Tuesday meeting with the Sixers.
McCollum's career night rallies Blazers past Wolves
The Sports Xchange | Jan 1