The face of the franchise took a beating on Friday night at Moda Center.
Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard had a fat lip in the postgame locker room, courtesy of a first half collision with Brooklyn Nets wing David Nwaba. But while Lillard was setting a franchise scoring record, and getting busted in the chops in the process, his backcourt partner was struggling through yet another off-shooting night.
"A game where Dame scores 60 points we're supposed to win," said CJ McCollum, following a 119-115 home loss. "We gotta do a better job of helping him. I gotta do a better job of helping him individually."
It has been an all too familiar scene during the Trail Blazers 3-6 start to the season. Lillard left to plunge headstrong and headfirst into, through and around defenders without much help from his supporting cast. McCollum in particular has provided little aide to help take the burden off Lillard.
During the Blazers four game losing streak, McCollum is shooting 34 percent from the floor, including 3-for-18 from three-point range. He was 9-for-23 from the floor in Thursday's loss to the Clippers in Los Angeles and followed that with eight points on a 4-for-19 shooting night against the Nets.
"I don't think there's anything wrong," McCollum said. "I just gotta continue to be aggressive, pick and choose my spots, watch the film. Obviously we've got different personnel out there, but I've been getting the same looks I've been getting for seven years. I just gotta make 'em."
McCollum was more matter of fact than dejected when speaking with reporters. He said he has been asking Blazers video coordinator Jon Yim to send clips of every one of his offensive touches so he can analyze his decision making, as well as pore over clips of his shot mechanics in slow motion. Beyond that, McCollum said he'll ramp up his workload a bit to try to break out of his shooting funk.
"They say it's insanity if you do the same things over and over again and it doesn't work," he said. "So I'll continue to do the same things and maybe step it up a little bit more in terms of reps, in terms of film study, in terms of time and commitment."
The Blazers issues extended well beyond McCollum's offensive woes. The injuries continue to mount, the defense is porous and none of the team's offseason acquisitions have found their stride. With new parts and ever-changing lineups, McCollum was supposed to be dependable, a bucket getter with a calming presence and a mean pull-up. So far he's simple another line in a growing list of Portland's early season issues.
So while Lillard left the arena looking like he caught a jab in the mouth, McCollum was pledging to keep fighting and to help rekindle the Blazers previously formidable 1-2 punch.
"Obviously I want to make shots, and I haven't," McCollum said. "I haven't performed as well as I would like offensively, and it's quite obvious. So I gotta figure out how to get myself going and help this team. I can't leave Dame out there on the hook to put up 60. Those are supposed to be games that we win."
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