8. CJ McCollum’s and Rodney Hood‘s fourth quarter explosions in March
Entering March, the Blazers were already having their best season of the Lillard Era. Their 38-23 record (.623 winning percentage) in the first five months of the 2018-19 campaign was their best over that span in the last five seasons.
Still, the Portland Trail Blazers found a way to kick things into a higher gear, finishing the year on a 15-6 (.714) run. This run was spurred by two games in particular, featuring players stepping up in the second half to help the Blazers win big.
The first game was a Sunday matinee on March 3 at the Charlotte Hornets. Portland held the lead for almost the entire game, but Buzz City kept things close. The Blazers held on to a slim 81-80 lead after three quarters.
That’s when Rodney Hood, just a month removed from joining the team, took off in the fourth. He was scoreless at halftime and had six points in the third quarter. He then proceeded to drop 21 points in the final frame to help Portland close the door on the home team, 118-108.
CJ McCollum followed that up nine days later against the Los Angeles Clippers. It was another tight game through three quarters at the Staples Center, with the Blazers edging out an 85-84 lead. Rip City broke things open with a 40-20 fourth quarter, led by McCollum’s 23 points on 8-of-9 shooting, including 4-of-4 from 3-point range. He finished with a game-high 35 points in a 125-104 victory.
This top-10 moment, and the two before this, were just a few examples of various Trail Blazers stepping up when the team needed a boost. It’s already a problem when Lillard and McCollum have big nights. It’s another thing when the role players can also pick up the mantle and score 20 or more. The fact that almost every player on the roster could pull off a huge performance was one of the keys to Rip City’s success this year.