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CJ McCollum leads Blazers past Grizzlies into Lakers series



The Portland Trail Blazers came through a back-and-forth play-in game against the Memphis Grizzlies with a 126-122 win to set up a first-round playoff series with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Portland’s form in the ‘bubble’ saw them leapfrog the Grizzlies into the eighth seed, meaning they needed just a single win on Saturday to advance, where Memphis would have needed back-to-back victories.

At various stages throughout the game, the Grizzlies looked capable of teeing up a rematch, recovering from a tough first quarter and then seizing the lead by scoring 42 points in the third.

But the Blazers’ key names stood up to the task, as Damian Lillard – the NBA’s form star – contributed 31 points and 10 assists, while Jusuf Nurkic had 22 points and 21 rebounds.

And it was CJ McCollum who closed the game out in dominant fashion, making two vital late shots against Ja Morant, including a three-pointer straight over the rookie to secure a four-point lead inside the last two minutes.

“He can’t guard me,” yelled McCollum, who finished on 29 points. Morant had been Memphis’ top performer on 35 points and eight assists.

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