Pelicans guard CJ McCollum drops 20 points vs. 76ers in return from collapsed lung

CJ McCollum and the Pelicans rolled past the 76ers 124-114 on Wednesday night

After a more than three-week absence, CJ McCollum officially returned to the lineup for the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday night after sustaining a collapsed lung and fractured rib.

McCollum dropped 20 points and had five assists and three rebounds while helping the Pelicans fly past the Philadelphia 76ers 124-114 at the Smoothie King Center. He shot 7-of-16 from the field, and went 3-of-8 from behind the arc.

McCollum first sustained a collapsed lung and fractured rib on Nov. 4, which marked the second of his career. He's been recovering ever since. As a part of his ramp up, McCollum participated in two practices with the Birmingham Squadron.

“It was a lot of fun, getting to see a lot of the guys from training camp and get some conditioning in,” McCollum told

“I have been conditioning for almost two weeks. I took some time off to let the lung heal, then I started ramping up. I have been on the treadmill and working out on the court and stuff. It’s good. They believe it’s good. I guess we will see tonight.”

C.J. McCollum returned to the court on Wednesday after missing more than three weeks with a collapsed lung.
C.J. McCollum returned to the court on Wednesday after missing more than three weeks with a collapsed lung. (Stephen Lew/USA Today)

While New Orleans went 5-7 in McCollum's absence, it managed to go 3-1 and finish first in the West's Group B for the in-season tournament group play. As a result, the expectation is that if McCollum's return goes well against the 76ers, then he'll suit up again for Friday's game against the San Antonio Spurs.

He'll be given some rest when the team travels to Chicago on Saturday and rejoin the Pelicans when New Orleans takes on the Sacramento Kings.

The game against the Kings is a part of the in-season tournament quarterfinals, and if the Pelicans win that game Monday, they would advance to the semifinals. They are currently the No. 3 seed in the West.

If they advance past the Kings, New Orleans will await the winner of the Los Angeles Lakers-Phoenix Suns game Thursday. The championship for the NBA Cup will be played in Las Vegas on Dec. 9.

“The way it’s spoken about it has been positive,” McCollum said. “From players, from staff, from fans. I think it was a couple buzzer beater games. The teams playing to the final buzzer because of the point differential. Giving fans something in late November, early December that we wouldn’t normally have.

“Obviously, the stakes, the money, playing in Vegas matters too. But I think it’s really cool the competitive nature has been consistent, if not raised.”

Zion Williamson led the Pelicans on Wednesday night with 33 points, eight rebounds and 10 assists. He shot a near-perfect 11-of-12 from the field, too. Jonas Valanciunas added 19 points and six rebonds.

Tyrese Maxey led the 76ers with 33 points in their loss. De'Anthony Melton added 17 points, and Robert Covington put up 12 points and seven rebounds off the bench. Philadelphia star Joel Embiid and an assistant coach both missed the game due to an illness.