----- CJ McCollum scores a game-high 37 points as the Portland Trail Blazers advance to the Western Conference Finals with a 100-96 Game 7 win Sunday afternoon at Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado.
For the first time in 19-years, the Portland Trail Blazers are headed to the Western Conference Finals. They will meet the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena Tuesday night in Oakland, California.
CJ McCollum scored 37 points including a critical jumper with 12.4 seconds remaining pushing Portland's lead to three at 98-95. McCollum kept the Blazers in striking distance in the first half scoring 15 points while the rest of the team connected on just 7-of-34 from the floor. He was the Blazers' meal ticket down the stretch scoring 22 points in the second half.
McCollum's game was critical because it came on a night when Damian Lillard made just 3-of-17 from the floor.
Evan Turner found redemption in game seven. After scoring just four points in the first six games of the series, Turner scored 14 points, 10 of those coming in the fourth quarter including two clutch free throws to seal the victory for Portland.
“Pressure can cut pipes or make diamonds,” Turner said. “So we never thought we were going to lose or anything like that.”
Throughout the season, the Trail Blazers made a habit of showcasing their resiliency. The loss of Paul Allen to start the season, losing streaks, and major injuries.
“It speaks to the character of our organization and what we’ve become,” said Lillard. “Obviously, we had the roster turnover four years ago and everybody was quick to shoot us down, count us out.
“And at that point, we didn’t know for sure what direction we were going to go in. But we definitely leaned on the culture that we wanted to create – doing things the right way, working hard, being about each other, not being about one guy or two guys. I think we really built that up from the jump. And to have that, it takes everybody, not just the players. You’ve got to have the coaches, the training staff, the front office, the security, everybody who is with us there every day. The PR staff, everybody we see every day."
“Everybody is invested in what we created,. I think when we come out on top in game like this, a tough series like this, you see it in everybody’s celebration. “It’s exciting because we all play a part in it. You don’t just create this type of thing with just the players. It takes everybody to be all in. And that’s what it was tonight.”
The Nuggets started the game strong taking a 29-17 lead after the first and building the lead to as much as 17-points in the second quarter, but the Blazers responded with a 17-9 run to close out the half.
Nikola Jokic scored 29 points to lead the Nuggets, missed 15 shots. Jamal Murray scored 17, but made just 4-of-18 from the floor. Denver made just 2-of-19 from three-point range.
Up Next- Game one of the Western Conference Finals will be Tuesday evening at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. Portland at Golden State. Tip off scheduled for 6:00 PM.
Chad's Take- Trail Blazers became the 29th team in NBA history to win a Game 7 on the road. Simply Amazing!