LOS ANGELES — CJ McCollum missed his first seven shots Tuesday night.
But when the fourth quarter arrived, the Portland Trail Blazers guard turned an off night into one of the hottest of his career.
McCollum scored 23 points alone in the final frame of a 125-104 win over the LA Clippers, his most points ever in the fourth quarter, as he topped his previous high of 16.
Most impressive of all: McCollum out-scored the Clippers by himself in the fourth, 23-20.
“I don’t ever get gun-shy,” said McCollum, who finished with a game-high 35 points on 12-21 shooting from the floor. “I’ve missed a lot of shots in my career. You’ve just got to stay confident.”
After his slow start, McCollum finished the night by making 12 of his final 14 shots from the floor and keyed the decisive fourth quarter, when the Trail Blazers outscored the Clippers 40 to 20.
“He showed what he’s made of,” said Portland coach Terry Stotts. “He came in here, never lost confidence, took the shots that were there and got us over the hump.”
Said Clippers coach Doc Rivers, “We made a lot of defensive mistakes, but C.J. McCollum was on fire. A lot of that was just shot-making, because some were just one-on-ones. You live with it.”
Portland guard Damian Lillard wasn’t surprised by his backcourt mate’s big night.
“I’ve seen that movie,” said Lillard, who scored 20 points to go along with 12 assists. “I always tell you guys – when he sees the ball go in a few times, he can get going. At that point, my job is to just make it last as long as possible.”
McCollum said he didn’t know he started 0-for-7 from the floor.
“I just knew I had some missed some easy shots,” he said. “Just a couple minor adjustments and once one goes in, it’s all downhill from there usually.”