Atlanta’s Hardaway, Portland’s McCollum win with career highs

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LOS ANGELES: Tim Hardaway and C.J. McCollum both enjoyed career nights Sunday (Monday in Manila) as the Atlanta Hawks surprised the first-place San Antonio Spurs while McCollum carried the Portland Trail Blazers to a come-from-behind victory.

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McCollum scored a career-high 43 points as the Trail Blazers rallied past Minnesota 95-89 and Hardaway tallied 29 points, matching his all-time best total, to push the Hawks over the Spurs 114-112 in overtime.

McCollum, who reached his previous best of 37 points twice, shot 16-of-25 from the field to set a career high for field goals.

“Obviously, C.J. had an outstanding game,” Portland coach Terry Stotts said.

Averaging 27.1 points in his last eight contests, this was McCollum’s fourth consecutive game scoring over 20 points in place of Damian Lillard, who injured his ankle on December 23. McCollum has scored 30 points in seven games this season.

Tim Hardaway AFP PHOTO

Tim Hardaway AFP PHOTO

Minnesota guard Kris Dunn came off the bench to play 21 minutes and spent a good portion of it trying to stop McCollum.

“He can shoot the ball,” Dunn said. “The three, the midrange, he can drive it to the basket.

“When somebody can do all of those things, you’ve just got to try and find a couple of things to take away from him. He got it going today so it was kind of hard.”

Canadian Andrew Wiggins led Minnesota with 24 points while the young Timberwolves trio of Wiggins, Karl-Anthony Towns and Zach LaVine combined for 48 points after getting 73 together on Friday against Milwaukee.

Towns finished with 11 points and 12 rebounds for his fourth double-double in a row and 24th of the season.

Portland quickly rallied from a 12-point half-time deficit with a 14-2 run to tie the game at 51-51 on a McCollum’s jumper. McCollum scored 16 points in the third and the Trail Blazers took a 69-64 lead into the fourth

Portland never trailed in the final quarter and led by as many as eight points in the closing 12 minutes.

Total breakdown
LaVine’s three pointer with 54 seconds to go allowed Minnesota to get within four at 91-87 but McCollum hit a jumper 20 seconds later and the Blazers finished the game at the charity stripe.

Minnesota coach Tom Thibodeau described the third quarter as “just a total breakdown.”

“The thing that is concerning is the big halftime leads that we don’t protect and we don’t come out with the urgency and the understanding of playing a whole 48 minutes and how important that is and how hard you have to play,” he said.

In Atlanta, Hardaway scored the go-ahead free throw in overtime as the Hawks snapped an 11-game losing streak to San Antonio in front of a crowd of 18,000.

San Antonio had a chance to level the game at the buzzer but Kawhi Leonard’s layup rolled around the rim and spun out.

Hardaway scored 21 points in the second half and scored the first eight points in overtime. He made the first of two free throws with 10 seconds left in overtime to put Atlanta ahead for good.

“Once you make one and then make another one, everything seems to come,” Hardaway said. “We came out today and played with a lot of pride.”

Atlanta’s Paul Millsap scored a season-high 32 points, including 14 in a row in the third and fourth quarters, to keep the Hawks within reach. Millsap added 13 rebounds and three assists.

Elsewhere, Myles Turner recorded his fifth double-double of the season with 23 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Indiana Pacers to a 117-104 victory over the Orlando Magic.

Turner has scored in double figures in 14 consecutive games with six 20-plus-point performances during that span.

In Los Angeles, Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan combined for 72 points as the Toronto Raptors became the latest team to take advantage of a hapless Los Angeles Lakers, handing them a 123-114 defeat.

AFP

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