Portland coach Terry Stotts broke out a challenge late on Sunday night at the American Airlines Center, a successful move that eventually led the Trail Blazers to a 121-119 win against the Dallas Mavericks.
“When it works for us, I’m a huge fan [of the challenge],” Blazers guard CJ McCullom said, via NBC Sports Northwest. “I had told [Damian Lillard], I said, ‘Look, we only have one timeout left, so if we’re challenging this make sure you really hit the ball.’ He said, ‘Bruh, I hit the ball.’ So it worked out in our favor.”
Damian Lillard fouls Finney-Smith late
Despite leading the entire game, the Mavericks saw their one-19-point lead disappear in the fourth quarter — setting up a thrilling back-and-forth in just their third game of the year.
Blazers star Damian Lillard then hit a clutch layup with just 26 seconds left in the game, putting them up by one. While Luka Doncic attempted a 3-pointer on the other end to retake the lead, the reigning Rookie of the Year was off the mark. Mavericks forward Dorian Finney-Smith, however, flew up and snagged the offensive rebound.
As he went to take the ball right back up, Lillard fouled him — sending Finney-Smith to the line for a pair of potential game-winning free throws.
Stotts, though, challenged the foul call.
The decision paid off, too. Officials determined that Lillard didn’t hit Finney-Smith after all, rather hitting just the ball instead. So, instead of a pair of free throws, play moved forward with a jump ball — as officials called the previous play dead while the ball was loose.
“Once Portland challenged the play and we were able to go and look at replay, we were able to have clear, conclusive evidence that Damian Lillard legally deflected the ball from Dorian Finney-Smith,” NBA official Courtney Kirkland said. “Once the ball was legally deflected, the ball was loose when the whistle blew, which led to an inadvertent whistle. Therefore, we ended up having a jump ball at center circle between any two players.”
After winning the jump, Blazers guard Kent Bazemore drew a foul and hit one last free throw to give Portland the two-point win in Dallas — it’s second straight victory.
CJ McCollum led Portland with 35 points, shooting 13-of-26 from the field. Lillard added 28 points, and Rodney Hood finished with 20.
Kristaps Porzingis led the Mavericks with 32 points and nine rebounds. Doncic finished with a near-triple-double in the loss — which would have been his second-straight — with 29 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists.
Zach Collins leaves early with injured shoulder
Portland forward Zach Collins left the game on Sunday night with an injured shoulder.
Collins, with just two minutes left in the third quarter, went up for a rebound with Doncic and could instantly be seen in pain grabbing his left shoulder.
Collins walked right off the floor and into the locker room where, according to NBC Sports’ Jamie Hudson, the training staff “cleanly” popped his shoulder back into place.
Collins has already been ruled out for the Blazers’ game on Monday against the San Antonio Spurs, and is set to undergo an MRI on Monday morning, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
The 21-year-old had 10 points and three rebounds when he left the game. The former Gonzaga standout averaged 6.6 points and 4.2 rebounds per game off the bench last season with Portland, his second in the league.
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