NBA 2020-21: Yet again, the Trail Blazers backcourt came up clutch. Lillard and McCollum led the 20-point comeback as the former sealed it late to give Portland their fourth straight victory.
All of the Trail Blazers superstar’s eight fourth-quarter points came in the final four minutes of the game. He was responsible for eight of the team’s final nine points including the game-winning free-throws which sealed the team’s 20-point comeback.
He finished season-high tallies of 40 points and 13 assists while not committing a single turnover, making him the first player in NBA history to record 40 and 13 with zero turnovers. But he wasn’t alone.
Much like the last couple of seasons, his backcourt mate CJ McCollum was balling too. He recorded 28 points and 10 assists – his second double-double of the season, making this the first game that both Lillard and McCollum have finished with 10 assists in the same game.
In fact, they are the first Blazers duo to record at least 25 points and 10 points since 1992.
Damian Lillard (40 PTS, 13 AST) and CJ McCollum (28 PTS, 10 AST) are the first @trailblazers duo with 25+ PTS and 10+ AST in a game since Clyde Drexler (34 PTS, 12 AST) and Terry Porter (25 PTS, 10 AST) on March 6, 1992. pic.twitter.com/IgSlxMFyx0
— NBA.com/Stats (@nbastats) January 14, 2021
While Lillard sealed it late, the duo did the damage together in the team’s comeback rally. Over the final 7:20 of the first half, Lillard and McCollum scored 20 of the team’s 27 points as they outscored the Kings by 17 (27-10) to reduce a 20-point lead to just three at the half.
Three other Blazers scored in double figures as they knocked down 23 3-pointers, tying their franchise record. Their opponents buried 19 from beyond the arc, making this game’s 42 3-pointers the most in the NBA this season and the second-most in NBA history.
For the Kings, six players scored in double figures. Buddy Hield knocked down eight 3-pointers en route to 26, while De’Aaron Fox finished with 29 points, six rebounds, and six assists.
🚨 HALF COURT LOB 🚨 pic.twitter.com/jTMRjf4SP1
— Portland Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) January 14, 2021
Can Portland carry the momentum forward?
Ever since the team invested in Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum for the future, the Portland Trail Blazers have ranked among the bottom 15 teams in the league in defensive rating in four of the five full seasons,
Despite making a concentrated effort in strengthening their roster on that end of the floor this past offseason by signing players like Robert Covington and Derrick Jones Jr., it’s not looking great through the first 11 games as the team’s defensive rating ranks 24th in the league.
However, in the last four games – all wins, the team’s defensive rating is much better at 14th.
Great positives for the team to carry into a huge seven-game homestand. Only two of the six opponents in the Pacers and Spurs have a record better than .500. So, it would be safe to expect the Trail Blazers to rack up more wins.