Just when it appeared the Trail Blazers would be buried under an avalanche of Los Angeles Clippers' offensive rebounds, CJ McCollum showed up to provide shelter.
McCollum missed his first seven shots Tuesday night but then made 12 of his last 14, including a sensational fourth quarter during which he went 8-9 from the field, including 4-4 from three-point range and scored 23 points.
The Trail Blazers thus opened a three-game road trip with a 125-104 triumph in the Staples Center.
"I didn't even know I was 0-7," McCollum said. "I knew I had missed some easy shots. I get a lot of reps up. I spend a lot of time in the gym… just a couple of minor adjustments and once one goes in, it feels good and it's downhill from there.
"I'm a professional scorer. I've had great nights and 2-for-20 nights. I just ride the wave. I know who I am."
Portland outscored the Clippers 40-20 in that fourth quarter and overcame a whopping 25 Los Angeles offensive rebounds that had kept the home team in the lead most of the first three quarters.
The Trail Blazers, behind McCollum's red-hot shooting, moved a one-point lead to 17 points in a span of 4:16 in the final quarter, as the Portland guard, who finished with 35, hit from all over the court.
"I had a lot of help from my teammates," McCollum said. "They stuck with me. And they set great screens for me."
Asked about missing the shots early, McCollum responded the way he always does. He understands the game and he understands himself.
"I don't ever get gun-shy," he said. "I've missed a lot of shots in my career and percentage-wise you're going to miss more than you make – especially from three. So you just have to stay confident, stay aggressive, know who you are -- and I'm comfortable with who I am as a basketball player and as a person. I just go out there and try to be my best self.
"Every game is crucial. This is a tough road trip for us. We've got a back-to-back to finish it off."
The Clippers were impressed, even though they've seen this kind of thing before.
"CJ McCollum is a talented player," said Los Angeles guard Lou Williams. "He has taken over the game on numerous occasions. Unfortunately, he did it tonight against us. He definitely got it going."
Montrezl Harrell came off the Clipper bench to create the usual havoc he does against Portland. He grabbed 11 rebounds, eight of them on offense, and scored 22 points. Ivica Zubac added nine offensive rebounds in what was an all-out assault on the Trail Blazers' defensive boards. Portland was fortunate, though, as Los Angeles could convert only 25 of its 61 shots in the paint for 50 points.
The team will stay an extra day in Los Angeles before departing for New Orleans Thursday for a Friday game. The road trip concludes with a Saturday game at San Antonio.