In the long run, it got here down to 2 gamers within the Moda Heart Saturday night time who might probably be traded for each other.
With James Harden asking for a commerce out of Houston and the Path Blazers on his record of acceptable groups, a participant who would appear to have to be included in such a deal could be Portland’s CJ McCollum.
And so they went toe-to-toe, with every scoring 44 factors in Portland’s 128-126 additional time win over the Rockets. McCollum, although, had the final phrase, hitting what proved to be the game-winning three-pointer off a move from Damian Lillard with 6.9 seconds left in additional time.
Harden, as you knew he would, had the ball in his arms for a ultimate play, however the Path Blazers compelled him into the lane, the place he tried to make a move to an open teammate in a nook however the move was knocked down by Robert Covington and recovered by Portland.
McCollum had 31 of his 44 after halftime. And don’t assume he didn’t perceive the ramifications of a Portland-Houston deal for Harden — if that commerce is made, it could virtually be a certain factor that he must be included, for wage and place functions.
“James opened up his record of extra groups. What am I purported to assume? I play the identical place as James,” McCollum stated. “If there’s a commerce for James, who’s gonna be within the commerce?”
So did the entire thing present additional motivation for him on this recreation?
“I need not psych myself as much as go play in opposition to among the finest gamers on the planet,” he stated. “James is basically good, no matter what James does in his spare time.
“James is basically (bleeping) good at basketball, like he is actually good… You understand what I imply, like you realize you could be able to play. No matter circumstances.
“He is good. He is a superb participant and I feel I am a superb participant as nicely. I do not want any additional motivation. My motivation is the battle that I went by means of to get up to now.”
Don’t assume Harden didn’t have a monster night time. He picked the Path Blazer protection other than the highest circle down the stretch and completed with 17 assists — and it might have been extra if a few of his overmatched teammates had been capable of hit open three-point photographs.
The Rockets made 30 of 46 within the paint however hit solely 11 of 35 from three whereas the Path Blazers have been making 19 of 45.
And with Harden bearing down in your protection with the clock ticking down and the sport on the road, it will possibly seem like Mission Unattainable.
“Properly, we knew that it could be in his arms,” Coach Terry Stotts stated. “There was six seconds of enjoying time to do no matter he wished, however clearly, we knew that the three was the one factor that might beat us,
“We wished to push him up, hopefully get him contained in the three-point line. However it will get somewhat dicey with drives within the lane and kicking it out to open shooters.
“So, I imply, look, he beat us with threes, he beat us attending to the road and he beat us getting within the lane and kicking it out for threes.
“I imply, it was it was a harmful proposition.”
Very harmful. However the Path Blazers survived and posted their first win of the season earlier than heading out for video games in Los Angeles in opposition to the Lakers and Clippers after which twice in opposition to the Golden State Warriors.