An unstoppable McCollum (37 + 9) gives the Blazers their first conference final in 19 years

The escort made an unforgettable game, exercising as a leader during the 48 minutes. The Nuggets went from more to less and diluted in the second half.


Christian James McCollum. That's the name of the night and, for now, of the season for a Portland Trail Blazers who return thanks to him to a conference final 19 years later. Far away is the one against the Lakers of Shaquille and Kobe, with a team of a very high level (Stoudamire, Smith, Pippen, Wallace, Sabonis, Schrempf), which took the team to the limit of Phil Jackson. Ahead they have the toughest bone to crack, the Golden State Warriors. But that will arrive in two days (early morning from Tuesday to Wednesday, 03:00 Spanish time). Now is the time to enjoy a classification more than deserved for how it has been achieved in this seventh game that started being a cross for the Blazers and ended up facing and reinforcing all the members of the group .

We said that C.J. McCollum was the man of the game. And it was from the first moment of it until the last . His 37 points were spread over all minutes and were of all colors. Before the bad game in Lillard's shot (3/17), the guard gave much more than a step forward. He made a meeting of those who mark a career. With a 58.6% success in shots in 29 pitches and in a seventh game to put your team in the final of the West. A before and after for one of the least recognized stars of the League as a whole.

Played well even in the first quarter, when the Blazers went into the game cold and the Nuggets, with intensity, suffocating defense and great success in attack, they went over them. The first quarter (29-17) threatened to settle the duel in the blink of an eye. The Blazers, in view of that they had nothing else in attack to hold on to than McCollum (Lillard went into the break with a 1/9 in shots), they dedicated themselves to defend in the second quarter. And they did so well that the game completely changed. First little by little and after the break faster and faster until getting over for the first time in the game with 11 seconds left to finish that period.

The Nuggets, who had already missed 7 free throws at the halfway point of the match (11 at at the end of the match), they began to miss those points that in the first quarter seemed to be left over. That and the triples. Jokic put two in the first period ... And now. That was all from the perimeter to end with a very poor 2/19. Meanwhile Rodney Hood, who had been key in recent games but was not yesterday, was left with a knee problem midway through the third quarter to not return. Nor for those those in Portland were reduced. With a Lillard that started doing everything but throw (10 rebounds, 8 assists and 3 steals) , showing great intelligence and who knew how to read the game, and with a Kanter that began to load the rebound (12 points and 13 rejects) ) .

The last period was visitor. McCollum followed suit and Evan Turner (14 + 7) appeared with several key moves in attack . In the Nuggets they practically had only the Jokic ball (29 + 13 + 2 and 4 blocks) and Murray (17 + 6 + 5). The two assists of the pivot are a good example of the general confusion among his teammates, who failed several baskets sung to pass the Serbian . To top it all, Lillard scored two 3-pointers, finally breaking free of Torrey Craig's defense. And a huge crash of McCollum on Murray at 4:30 for the final seemed a blow too hard to respond.

Even so the locals got thanks to several actions of Jokic to arrive with options to the last seconds. And who was the final executor? Effectively, McCollum. With three tremendous baskets in the last three minutes, the last in the last, after a timeout and playing a one-on-one as if he had possessed the spirit of Jordan, Bryant, Wade ... In the short exchange of final free throws came out losing the Nuggets with a Jokic failure and already desperately had no choice but to play it to the shot of three. The Serbian threw it from far away and, as the rest of the game had passed, it failed once again.

A positive season in Denver ends with a sad end and a historic course in Portland continues, which we will see where it goes. For the moment until the early hours of the 20th to the 21st, when the fourth game of the series against the Warriors is scheduled.



Photos from as.com

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