The Blazers started about as poorly as you could imagine. That didn’t stop them.
0-for-10 from 3. Damian Lillard started 0-of-6, and 1-for-9 through the first half. He had seven points thanks to five made free throws in the opening 24 minutes.
CJ McCollum saved Portland, constantly. The LeHigh product started 7-of-12 with 15 first half points.
Portland trailed by as many as 17 points. Did that stop them? Of course not. Coming into today, road teams were 28-105 in Game 7’s on the road. Did that deter the Blazers? Nope.
No matter what Denver did, no matter how many defensive formations they tried, no matter where the bodies came from CJ McCollum found a way to get open for a shot.
In the third, McCollum continued his strong showing with 14 points in the quarter. He finished with a game-high 37 points on 17-of-29 (58.6%) shooting.
Damian Lillard finally hit a three, and put Portland up 81-76. There was still a long way to go, but once that three went in you could feel the win coming for the Blazers.
The Blazer’s leader deferred to McCollum throughout the night, knowing that the hot shooting CJ could carry Portland. Lillard scored 13 points.
We would be remiss if we didn’t mention Evan Turner and Zach Collins.
E.T. was huge after Rodney Hood, who was the most consistent Blazer vs. Denver, went down with a left knee hyper-extension.
Turner contributed 14 points off the bench, along with seven rebounds, two assists and a steal. Turner hit key free throws down the stretch and was 8-of-9 overall from the stripe.
As for Collins, the second-year player from Gonzaga, played some man-sized defense. He blocked four shots, a game after blocking 5 shots in Game 6.
Collins also scored seven points, grabbed five rebounds and dished an assist.
Your Portland Trail Blazers are headed BACK to the Western Conference Finals since 2000.