NBA: McCollum reins in Mavericks at the death

DALLAS • It came down to who had the ball last. Fortunately for the Portland Trail Blazers, that was C.J. McCollum.

A stumbling floater from the shooting guard with 0.3 seconds left finished off a wild final minute to lift Portland past the Dallas Mavericks 114-113 on Tuesday in the National Basketball Association.

He gave the Trail Blazers the lead four different times in the final 34 seconds on his way to 32 points. His final bucket at the American Airlines Centre followed a three-pointer from Mavs forward Dirk Nowitzki with 3.9sec left.

Portland called timeout and set up the last play for one of their two guards, McCollum or Damian Lillard. McCollum turned out to be the one open.

"Once I caught it, I knew I was going to attack right away," he said. "I saw Harrison Barnes coming from the left side, so I just threw the ball up there and tried to split, get to the free-throw line area and get to my sweet spot.

"I got there and knew it was a shot I was comfortable with, so I had a good feeling it would go in."

Portland (23-30) have had trouble closing out games this season.

"We have been on the wrong end of it a lot of times this year, and so we were proud of what we did," coach Terry Stotts said. "I'm glad we closed it out."


Portland Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum scoring the game-winning basket over the Dallas Mavericks' Devin Harris and Dorian Finney-Smith at the American Airlines Centre. His shot denied Dallas the chance to stage a comeback with 0.3 seconds left on the clock. PHOTO: REUTERS

Both teams are gunning for the last play-off spot in the Western Conference. Portland are one game behind the eighth and final spot occupied by the Denver Nuggets while Dallas (20-32) are in 11th place. The last time they met, the Blazers were lit up by Yogi Ferrell.

Dallas' rookie point guard, on a 10-day contract at the time, scored 32 points, including nine three-pointers that night.

Lillard said going into the game that the Blazers were not about to let Ferrell go off again. They did not. But Lillard did.

The point guard, snubbed for the All-Star Game, carried Portland before McCollum's game-winning shot meant his team split the season series with Dallas 2-2.

He knocked down 12 of 22 shots from the field, including five of nine from deep, for 29 points, six assists and five rebounds.

The Trail Blazers suffered a huge loss though, as Evan Turner (11 points) fractured the third metacarpal in his right hand. The swingman is out indefinitely.

Nowitzki scored 25 points for the Mavericks - his second-highest outing this season. Barnes led Dallas with 26 points.

"Fun game to be a part of," Nowitzki said. "We fought back from being down 16 at the end of the second quarter. It could have gone either way."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 09, 2017, with the headline 'McCollum reins in Mavericks at the death'. Print Edition | Subscribe