Blazers send Grizzlies tumbling to 5th loss in row
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Memphis Grizzlies had cut the Portland Trail Blazers’ lead to four points. It was getting late, but if they made a stop, there was a chance to flip things.
That’s when Portland guard CJ McCollum knocked down a contested jumper with 35.3 seconds left in the fourth quarter on the way to the Trail Blazers’ 100-92 victory over Memphis Monday night at FedExForum.
McCollum’s shot was part of a 24-point, eight-rebound effort. His backcourt mate, Damian Lillard, added 21 points with four assists.
“They’ve got guys that can close the game,” Memphis coach David Fizdale said. “CJ McCollum is serious business. He made a tough shot over Tyreke (Evans) to really put the dagger in us.”
Said McCollum: “You just have to have that mentality where you don’t fear missing shots.”
Memphis (7-9) lost its fifth straight as the Trail Blazers posted a whopping 60-35 rebounding advantage.
Portland (10-7) overcame 17 turnovers that led to 18 Memphis points.
Forward Noah Vonleh led the Portland boards brigade, finishing with 18 rebounds, one off his career high, and 11 points and three blocks. It was his first double-double of the season.
“He was a beast,” said Portland guard Shabazz Napier, who gave Portland 16 points with four rebounds and three assists off the bench.
The Trail Blazers carried a 72-71 lead into the fourth quarter. The score was tied 80-80 with 6:41 left in the game after Memphis center Marc Gasol (19 points, 12 rebounds, seven assists, two blocks) split two free throws.
From there, Portland twice stretched the lead to eight points.
Memphis cut it to 96-92 with 52 seconds left on a driving layup from Evans (20 points, three rebounds and three assists). Then McCollum hit that jumper and Lillard made two free throws to complete the scoring.
Although the Grizzlies’ losing streak continued, forward Chandler Parsons (six points, three assists) found some encouraging signs.
“Our effort tonight put us in position to win the game,” Parsons said. “We competed better. (But) we gotta take our focus off missing shots, the referee. We have no time to feel bad for ourselves.
“I thought we made some steps forward but at the end of the day we still lost to a team that’s trying to make the playoffs ahead of us, so you can’t be too happy. But the worst thing we can do is splinter in different directions and start focusing on yourself and what’s going bad for you. We gotta stick together.”
Portland shot 39.8 percent from the floor and went 6 of 15 from 3-point range for 40 percent. Memphis shot 38.4 percent from the field and went 8 of 30 from distance for 26.7 percent.
Mario Chalmers led Memphis with 21 points and added six rebounds and six assists. Grizzlies forward JaMychal Green chipped in 11 points with five rebounds.
Lillard injured his foot during the game but returned.
“Well, it’s just like Dame,” said Portland coach Terry Stotts. “What he does, it doesn’t surprise me.”
After starting the season 5-1, Memphis has lost eight of its last 10 and five straight at home.
“Like I just told our team, when you’re in a rut it’s tough,” Fizdale said. “But that game looks a little bit more like us. You’ve got to look for small victories in this stuff when you’re crawling through the mud.”
For the Blazers, Monday’s game was the start of a five-game road trip that will take them to Philadelphia, Brooklyn, Washington and New York and stretch through the Thanksgiving holiday and to next Monday.
“It was crucial,” McCollum said of starting the trip with a win. “This was a game we needed.”
NOTES: The Grizzlies’ injury woes continued to mount. Already missing PG Mike Conley, who will be out a minimum of two weeks and probably longer, Memphis is now without F Brandan Wright after he injured a groin last Saturday vs. Houston. “With him being a speed guy, it really impacted him,” Grizzlies coach David Fizdale said. ... Coming into the game, Trail Blazers C Jusuf Nurkic had committed 53 fouls this season and was averaging 3.3 fouls per game. He had four on Monday. “He gets himself in trouble by reaching,” Portland coach Terry Stotts said. ... Stotts said he is hopeful that F Al-Farouq Aminu (right ankle) could begin practicing during the current five-game road trip. ... G Tyreke Evans was the only Memphis bench player to score in the first half. He had 16 points in 15 minutes. Five other Grizzlies scored zero points in a combined 28 minutes.