McCollum scores 31 as Trail Blazers edge Jazz 115-111
Feb. 22, 2016
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Damian Lillard sparked a huge rally for the Portland Trail Blazers, and his backcourt companion C.J. McCollum sealed the victory at the foul line.
McCollum got two of his 31 points on free throws with 2.7 seconds left after Lillard put Portland ahead late in the Blazers' 115-111 win over the Utah Jazz on Sunday night.
Lillard's layup put Portland ahead 111-109 with 23.4 seconds left, and he finished with 30 points and five assists. Portland has won four straight and 14 of 17. The Trail Blazers are in seventh place in the Western Conference, a half-game behind Dallas.
Derrick Favors paced the Jazz with 22 points and eight rebounds. Gordon Hayward scored 21 points, and Rodney Hood had 18.
Utah lost for the third time in four games and is in ninth place in the West.
After falling behind 62-49 early in the third quarter, Lillard got the Blazers back in the game with four 3-pointers in a 90-second span, plus another by McCollum for a 15-1 run.
"If one gets going, a team can load up on him," Lillard said of Portland's 1-2 punch. "(Both of us) kind of kept them off balance."
After Lillard broke the tie, McCollum hit two foul shots to give Portland a 113-109 lead. Favors scored for Utah at the other end, then McCollum made two more free throws to clinch the win.
Asked for his assessment of his Blazers team and what they need to do going forward, Lillard was succinct.
"We're a playoff team," he said. "We've got to put our hard hats on and go to work."
Utah squandered a strong defensive effort in the first quarter and early second that helped build a 13-point advantage. The Jazz limited Portland to just 35 percent shooting in the opening frame and forced eight turnovers.
But the Blazers closed the half with a 7-0 spurt to trail by only five at halftime.
"Those last couple of minutes in the first half really hurt us," Utah coach Quin Snyder said. "I thought the momentum they got carried over into the second half."
Portland got strong contributions from reserves Maurice Harkless and Ed Davis. Harkless, who returned to the bench after starting in place of the injured Noah Vonleh earlier this month, scored 17 high-energy points and Davis added 11 on 4-for-4 shooting.
"He's been huge," Lillard said of Harkless. "He's changing every game for us."
Shelvin Mack scored a season-high 16 points and had six assists for the Jazz, who acquired the backup point guard at the NBA trade deadline Thursday from Atlanta.
"I felt comfortable," Mack said. "It is a similar system to what we ran in Atlanta. It makes it easier when you have great teammates that you come in and play your game."
Portland had a strong game on the glass, collecting 23 offensive boards and outrebounding the Jazz 48-38.
Mason Plumlee had nine points and nine rebounds and six assists for the Blazers.
Portland was coming off a 137-105 victory over Golden State.
The previous four teams to defeat the defending NBA champion Warriors all lost their next game. Milwaukee fell on the road to the Los Angeles Lakers (113-95); Dallas lost at home to New Orleans (105-98); Denver was nipped by Miami at home (98-95); and Detroit dropped a home game to Chicago (111-101).
Utah has been one of the top defensive teams in the league all season, ranking third in points allowed before Sunday's game and in the top five in several other categories, including field goals allowed (first) and made (second). The Blazer have not been as solid, especially at the beginning of the year, but have improved greatly during their recent hot streak. Since Jan. 10, when the run began, Portland was sixth in points allowed, just shy of 100 per game.
Jazz: Mack and Hayward were collegiate teammates for two seasons at Butler (2008-10), losing to Duke in the 2010 national championship game. ... C Rudy Gobert brought a five-game double-double streak into Sunday's game. He finished with seven points and eight boards.
Trail Blazers: Lillard became the first player in NBA history to make 150-plus 3-pointers in his first four seasons in the league. He is also the first Blazer to score at least 30 points in four consecutive games since Clyde Drexler accomplished the feat in 1991.
Jazz: Host Houston on Tuesday night.
Trail Blazers: Host Brooklyn on Tuesday night.