- Steve Dykes/Getty Images
- The Portland Trail Blazers beat the Denver Nuggets in Game 7 on Sunday to advance to the Western Conference Finals.
- Blazers guard C.J. McCollum had a huge game, scoring 37 points and 9 rebounds to help the Blazers come back from an early 17-point deficit.
- McCollum made two huge, clutch plays in the fourth quarter that evoked NBA greats like LeBron James and Michael Jordan, first with a chase-down block, then with a go-ahead jumper in the final seconds.
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C.J. McCollum had the game of his life on Sunday to help the Portland Trail Blazers beat the Denver Nuggets, 100-96, in Game 7 and advance to the Western Conference Finals.
McCollum finished with 37 points on 17-29 shooting and 9 rebounds, helping the Blazers overcome a 17-point deficit to get a shot at the NBA Finals just one year after being swept out of the first round.
McCollum made two huge plays that evoked NBA greats and helped the Blazers secure the win.
With less than five minutes remaining, Nuggets guard Jamal Murray leaked out on a fastbreak, hoping to convert a layup to cut the Blazers’ lead to two. After Blazers guard Seth Curry contested the shot, McCollum came flying in to smack the ball off the glass and save the basket.
CJ ARE YOU JOKING?!??!??!? pic.twitter.com/8wj45dmFp6
— Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) May 12, 2019
The block evoked LeBron James’ big chasedown block on the Golden State Warriors in Game 7 of the 2016 Finals.
In fact, McCollum, an Ohio native, even got a shoutout from James before the blocked shot.
That 330 kid cooking right now!
— LeBron James (@KingJames) May 12, 2019
Later on, with the Blazers leading by one with 22 seconds remaining, McCollum went one-on-one against the Nuggets’ Torrey Craig. McCollum drove left toward the foul line, used a small push-off to create space from Craig, and knocked down the dagger jump shot to put the Blazers up three.
CJ IS CLUTCH ???? pic.twitter.com/r2om60itmP
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) May 12, 2019
The jumper resembled Michael Jordan’s dagger jump shot over the Utah Jazz in the 1998 Finals.
It’s not often that a guard who has never made an All-Star team, despite averaging over 20 points per game the last four seasons, makes two plays in an elimination game that can be compared to Jordan and James.
After the game, McCollum even evoked a Jordan-like attitude in an interview with ESPN’s Doris Burke. Asked about his final shot, he said he told Blazers coach Terry Stotts to give him the ball.
“I told Coach to flatten it out. [Craig] can’t check me,” McCollum said, adding he told Stotts he could at least get a good look at a shot.
McCollum and the Blazers now face a tough test in the conference finals against the Warriors. Few will expect them to win the series, but their recovery from their ugly first-round exit last season has been surprising enough.
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