Another Western Conference playoff hopeful. Another game that came down to the wire.
The Portland Trail Blazers fell to the Memphis Grizzlies, 98-97, Tuesday night at the Moda Center in yet another game that came down to crunch time.
But unlike last-second wins over the Los Angeles Lakers and Oklahoma City Thunder, the Blazers couldn’t conjure up any late game magic against the Grizzlies.
CJ McCollum scored 14 of his game-high 36 points in the final quarter, but he needed one more bucket to cap a dazzling late game performance. He carried the Blazers for most of the night, keeping Portland in range while Damian Lillard (4-for-16) and Jusuf Nurkic (3-for-9) never got untracked.
The Blazers struggled to slow Memphis forward Tyreke Evans (21 points on 15 shots) and committed a crucial turnover in final minute. And yet still had a chance to pull the game out in the waning seconds.
After McCollum hit a three-pointer to trim Memphis’ lead to one with 12.6 seconds left and then Shabazz Napier forced a turnover, giving the Blazers a final possession.
McCollum missed a pull-up mid-range jumper short and then failed to get a second shot off after he chased down his own miss.
McCollum scored 35 points on 14-for-26 shooting, including 4-for-10 from beyond the arc. Evan Turner added 16 points off the bench and Napier had his best game of the season, scoring 12 points and coming away with the crucial defensive play late when he pressured Mike Conley on an inbounds pass in the final seconds.
Conley scored all 20 of his points in the second half, Mark Gasol added 16 points, five rebounds and four assists and Evans finished with 21 points, getting into the lane at will all night.
THEY SAID IT
“If we can get a shot like that for CJ to win the game, I’ll take it every time,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. “It was a great look.”
Grizzlies guard Dillon Brooks reached in for a steal on Ed Davis, poking the ball away with 39 seconds left and triggering a fast break. Brooks finished in transition on the other end, drawing a foul and adding a free throw to put the Grizzlies up 96-91.
Brooks, the former University of Oregon standout, played his first professional game in Portland with his former coach in attendance. Oregon Ducks coach Dana Altman sat courtside across from the Grizzlies bench to watch Brooks make his third consecutive start. Brooks, the No. 45 pick in the June draft, finished with seven points and eight rebounds in 38 minutes.
Brooks was a part of Memphis’ two biggest plays of the game. His steal with 39 seconds left put the Blazers into scramble mode late. Then on the game’s final possession he defended McCollum’s initial jumper then chased the Blazers’ star down in the corner, preventing a second attempt before the buzzer. NEXT UP
The Blazers host the Brooklyn Nets on Friday night at 7 p.m. in Allen Crabbe’s first game back at the Moda Center since he was traded in the offseason.