PORTLAND, Ore. — CJ McCollum was making shots the entire game, so it figured he would knock down his last attempt with the game on the line.
However, McCollum’s open 17-foot jump shot went off the rim in the closing seconds, allowing the Memphis Grizzlies to escape with a 98-97 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday night at Moda Center.
“I got a good look,” said McCollum, who scored a season-high 36 points on 14-for-26 shooting. “I make that shot pretty often. Went to a comfort shot and missed it. It felt good; just a little short.”
The play was set up when the Grizzlies, owning the ball with a one-point lead and 12.9 seconds remaining, knocked the ball out of bounds on the inbounds play. That gave Portland the ball with 12.1 seconds to go.
The Blazers inbounded in the backcourt to McCollum, who drove the left side and launched a shot that was short with 3.9 seconds left. McCollum grabbed the rebound but was unable to get off another attempt before the final horn.
Tyreke Evans came off the bench to put up 21 points, and Mike Conley scored all 20 of his points in the second half for Memphis (7-4). Marc Gasol contributed 16 points, five rebounds, four assists and four blocked shots for the Grizzlies.
Memphis coach David Fizdale was pleased with his team’s defense and the second-half production of Conley, who was 0-for-7 from the field in the first half.
“Marc was phenomenal back there, patrolling and quarterbacking our defense,” Fizdale said. “Then Mike really got it going there in the second half and carried us for stretches.”
Memphis jumped out to 16-8 lead as Portland started 3-for-15 from the field. The Blazers battled back to get to within 23-21 entering the second quarter.
The Grizzlies hiked the margin to 41-35, but the Blazers responded with eight in a row for a 43-41 advantage. Behind McCollum’s 15 points, Portland took a three-point edge into intermission.
Memphis outscored the Blazers 19-9 to start the third quarter, taking a 66-59 advantage. Conley’s 3-point shot just before the horn gave Memphis a 74-71 edge heading into the final period.
The Grizzlies led 93-89 with 2:51 to play, but Damian Lillard scored on a drive to cut it to 93-91 with 2:35 left.
Neither team scored again until Dillon Brooks’ three-point play with 39.4 seconds remaining, which gave the Grizzlies a 96-91 edge.
Evan Turner made two free throws to trim the margin to 96-93 with 28.1 seconds to play.
Conley sank a pair at the line to push the Memphis lead to 98-93 with 23.1 seconds on the clock.
Lillard hit a foul shot to make it 98-94, then McCollum drilled a 3-pointer with 12.9 seconds left to draw Portland to within 98-97.
“It was a good game, with a lot of ebb and flow,” Portland coach Terry Stotts said. “If we can get a shot like that for CJ to win a game, I’d take it every time. It was a great look.”
Memphis swingman Dillon Brooks, a rookie from Oregon, had seven points, eight rebounds, three steals and two blocked shots in his third straight start. He played a team-high 38 minutes and spent most of his time guarding McCollum and Lillard.
Lillard finished with a season-low 12 points on 4-for-16 shooting.
“I loved the way Dillon competed,” Fizdale said. “He really made them work. We’re talking about two premier, elite guards; they’re going to get their numbers. They’re so well-coached by Terry, it’s hard to shut them down. You just want to make it difficult.”
NOTES: Portland G Damian Lillard had scored 30 or more points in each of his previous four games. ... Lillard ran his consecutive free-throw streak to 50 by going 4-for-4 at the line. Lillard’s career high is 54 straight. The franchise record is 57 in a row, held by Damon Stoudamire. ... Memphis was without G/F Ben McLemore (foot), G Wayne Selden (quad) and F JaMychal Green (ankle), but coach David Fizdale said McLemore and Selden are both close to a return. ... Portland F Meyers Leonard (ankle) has begun running and is ahead of schedule, he said. He hopes to return to duty within a week.