The star backcourt of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum led the Portland Trail Blazers to a much-needed Game 3 victory against the Oklahoma City Thunder tonight, propelling the Blazers to a 3-1 series lead. Portland’s starting guards combined for an effective 51 points off of nine combined three-pointers, while playing tough defense on an assortment of Thunder players. A strong third quarter gave the team a double-digit lead, which they maintained for the remainder of the game.
Normally the unsung hero, Al-Farouq Aminu made an impact tonight. His play at the start and end of the game earned him the BioFreeze performer award as the player of the game.
Aminu’s most important contribution was knocking down early three-pointers to stretch the Thunder defense. Instead of every defender collapsing on Lillard or McCollum,cheap nba jerseys from china
they hesitated on pinching into the lane and vacated room for the guards to attack. When OKC’s defense adjusted for Lillard and McCollum’s assault, the ball went back to Aminu.
While he failed to connect on crucial attempts in the final minutes of the game, Aminu contributed in his usual manner…on defense. He stayed tight on Paul George and communicated well with Moe Harkless to switch on screens, limiting George’s uncontested three-point attempts. Aminu also blocked Nerlens Noel in the fourth quarter and secured the loose ball to keep Portland’s lead secure.
Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum Stay Hot
Lillard came out sluggish and missed all four of his shots in the first quarter. He didn’t score until the final two minutes of the half, but five late points capped off an 11-0 Portland run and gave the Blazers a 50-46 lead at halftime. As in Game 3, Lillard broke out in the third quarter. He utilized screens from Enes Kanter craftily, separating himself from George and converting three triples in four possessions, vaulting the Blazers to a significant lead.
McCollum diced up Thunder defenders all night with the silky dribble moves we’re accustomed to, but he shot with remarkable confidence too. He took the offensive torch from Lillard in the fourth quarter. Just as the Thunder were trying to make a comeback, he blocked George in transition, then ran into a pull-up three on the other end. This pushed Portland’s lead to 97-81 with 4:26 remaining, an edge that would prove insurmountable. McCollum finished with 27 points, one steal and two blocks on 10-20 shooting and five triples.