PORTLAND—CJ McCollum scored a franchise-record 28 points in the first quarter before finishing with a career-high 50 through three, and the Portland Trail Blazers took advantage of the short-handed Bulls for a 124-108 victory Wednesday night.McCollum’s 28 points in the opening quarter were the most by an NBA player this season. His final tally was nine points shy of the team record set by Damian Lillard last season.Lillard also sat out the final period after adding 13 points and seven assists for the Blazers, who led by as many as 29. It was Portland’s fourth straight win overall, a season high, and the club’s eighth in a row at home.Zach LaVine had a season-best 23 points in the Bulls fifth consecutive loss.Lauri Markkanen was not with the Bulls because he was attending to a personal issue, the team said. The rookie is averaging 15.3 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. Paul Zipser started in his place.Kris Dunn, averaging 13.7 points and 6.4 assists, missed his sixth straight game after a concussion.The Bulls decided to sit forward Nikola Mirotic while he reportedly seeks a trade. Coach Fred Hoiberg said before the game that the 6-foot-10 forward remained back at the team hotel. Meanwhile, rumors swirled that the Bulls had a deal with the Pelicans but it fell apart.Portland shot 74 percent in the first quarter paced by McCollum, who made four 3-pointers in the period and finished with six for the game.Pat Connaughton’s 3-pointer put the Blazers up 54-28. McCollum punctuated the first half with a dunk, and the Blazers went into the break with a 67-44 lead.McCollum finished the half with 32 points, one shy of Lillard’s franchise record.
”I thought we had some good looks early, we didn’t make them, and then you have to guard. That’s kind of been the story of these slow starts, letting teams get comfortable and in a rhythm,” Hoiberg said. ”Our game plan was to come out, try to blitz him (McCollum). He was splitting our double teams and obviously made tough shots. Give him credit for coming out of the game and setting the tone.”
After he sat down in the third quarter, McCollum smiled when the crowd chanted ”We want CJ!”The Blazers did lose center Jusuf Nurkic in the fourth quarter to injury. Afterward, they said it was a bruised left quad.Lillard went into the game needing 25 points to reach 10,000. He’ll be the seventh Blazers player to reach the mark, joining Clyde Drexler, LaMarcus Aldridge, Terry Porter, Cliff Robinson, Jerome Kersey and Jim Paxson. The Bulls fell behind 23-2,28-5 & 30-7 before trailing after the first quarter 43-19.