On Wednesday night, the Portland Trail Blazers hosted the Chicago Bulls in just another regular season game. It was simply an average night in which the best team won the game. Nothing too unpredictable took place. Everything went as expected – oh, except for CJ McCollum going absolutely ballistic.
The fourth year pro totaled 50 points and set a new career-high with the biggest night of his life. What is more impressive is the fact that 28 of those came in the first quarter alone. Those 28 first quarter points are the most in a quarter by any player in Trail Blazers history. He would go on to sit out the fourth quarter.
Yes, that is correct – McCollum notched a 50-spot in just three quarters while playing only 29 minutes. He shot 72 percent from the field, making 18 of his 25 shot attempts. He also drilled six of nine attempts beyond the arc. For what it’s worth, McCollum was also a perfect 8-for-8 from the charity stripe.
“The guys did a good job of getting me open,” McCollum said, via ESPN. “I had some good looks early in motion offense. I was able to hit some pullups and 3s. Once I saw the ball go in, I knew it was going to be a good night.”
“I’m not into chasing records, man. I just want to win,” the former Lehigh standout said. “Even throughout the game, I looked up, and I was like, I can get 40. And then Ed [Davis] was like, ‘No, you need 50.’ And [Damian Lillard] was like, ‘Get 50.’ So I was like, ‘OK, I’ll get 50 if you guys want me to.”’
Lillard is a man of repetition and practice. His final two points came from the free throw line.
“I tried to draw some contact. Once I got to the line, a couple of teammates told me, ‘Don’t choke, and go be great,'” McCollum said. “Once the first one went in, I knew the second one would go in based on repetition.”
His head coach Terry Stotts was impressed and couldn’t quite put the performance into words.
“I don’t know what the right word is, but a very impressive outing for CJ,” Stotts said to reporters following the explosion from his young guard. “What he did in the first quarter was amazing. It was fun to sit back and watch that.”
Following his exit for the start of the fourth quarter, fans in the stands were chanting “We want CJ!” McCollum appreciated the support, but was all business in the end.
“I was thinking, ‘I hope I don’t have to go back in,”’ McCollum said. “That means we’re not playing the way we should be playing. There was a lot of love tonight, and I appreciate it.”
Stotts agreed with McCollum that he made the right decision.
“Too risky,” he said. “We were up 25, and I would have left him in to get 50, but 50 is a good number.”
McCollum very well could have broken the Blazers’ record for points in a game, set by his teammate Damian Lillard, who netted 59 last season. He is now the seventh Blazer to score the half century mark. McCollum joins Lillard, Damon Stoudemire, Brandon Roy, Andre Miller, Clyde Drexler, and Geoff Petrie.