Is C.J. McCollum this good? Yeah, C.J. McCollum is this good. He was 50-points-in-three-quarters good Wednesday night, opening the game fully alight and lifting the Trail Blazers to a 124–108 win over the sputtering Bulls in Portland.
About 24 hours after James Harden’s historic 60-point triple-double, the Trail Blazers guard exploded for a career-best scoring night, shooting 18–25 from the field, making six threes and going a perfect 8–8 from the stripe to get to 50. As the esteemed Ben Golliver notes, McCollum became the seventh player in Blazers history to score 50.
McCollum became only the second player in the shot-clock era to score 50 or more in 30 or fewer minutes—Klay Thompson became the first last season—in a game that was madly efficient and over before it really began. He roasted the Bulls for a franchise-record 28-point first quarter and essentially ended the game after 12 minutes, a period in which he drained four threes and had a very hard time missing from anywhere. It can be seen below.
After that barrage, McCollum only scored four points in the second quarter (and rested for about half of it). So it goes. He returned to add another 18 in the third, landing right on 50 after draining a pair of free throws at the end of the quarter. The fact he hit it that early meant he wouldn’t return, for better or worse. “We want C.J.” chants overwhelmed the Moda Center in the fourth quarter. But Terry Stotts wouldn’t heed the fans (probably wise) and opted to keep McCollum on the bench, fully healthy.
McCollum can work magic with the ball in his hands but has also become one of the NBA’s slitheriest players working off of screens. He shares the spotlight with Damian Lillard, but his game has evolved for the better because of their pairing. He may not be an All-Star this season, but he remains one of the league’s sneaky-elite scorers. He was typically modest in an on-court postgame interview, but McCollum’s newfound membership in the 50-point club should say it all.
Well … except the fact he should have gone back in. We’ll never know.