Much has been made about how amazing Damian Lillard has been since the season restart — and rightfully so. To some degree, every other member of the Portland Trail Blazers has been overshadowed, including Lillard’s backcourt partner-in-crime in CJ McCollum.
McCollum has been playing through a back injury over the Blazers’ past few games, and his fortitude has received high praise from none other than Lillard himself:
“One thing that is a part of our relationship and something that makes us have so much belief in each other is — he knows that I have unwavering confidence [in him] and I know the same thing about him,” Lillard said, via Jamie Hudson of NBC Sports Northwest. “I know his heart. I know his toughness. I know who he is as a man.”
“He’s a little bit banged up. He’s making no excuses or looking for no way out. He’s thuggin’ it out for the team and being out there for us, and fortunate for us, him doing that meant he was out there for those last free throws and came through for us.”
The Blazers secured an important victory on Tuesday against the Dallas Mavericks, behind Lillard’s astounding career-high 61-point performance. For his part, CJ McCollum had a poor shooting night, going 2-of-14 from the field for just eight points. Clearly, the back injury has been bothering him.
At this point, however, the team cannot afford to sit any of its key guys. With things extremely tight at the bottom of the Western Conference playoffs picture, you can be sure that the Blazers will continue to roll with McCollum so long as he is physically able to “thug it out.”