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Items include a look back at Lillard and McCollum games, comparing stats and center production.

COURTESY PHOTO: BRUCE ELY/TRAIL BLAZERS - Trail Blazers players, including CJ McCollum (right), greet former Blazer and now Sacramento Kings player Hassan Whiteside (left) before last Saturday's game.What's ahead: It's the week of the Blazers' first back-to-back. After a Monday game against Toronto, they play at Sacramento on Wednesday and play host to Indiana on Thursday to start a seven-game homestand. Atlanta visits Saturday and San Antonio on Monday, Jan. 18.

What's behind: In Portland wins against Minnesota and Sacramento, Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum had strikingly similar games.

Lillard had 39 points in 29 minutes against Minnesota, going 13 of 21 from the field (7 of 12 3-pointers) and 6 of 7 from the free-throw line. McCollum had 37 points in 29 minutes against Sacramento, going 13 of 22 from the field (6 of 11 3-pointers) and 5 of 5 from the free-throw line.

The Blazers fell in love with the 3 ball against Chicago with 51 attempts (19 makes) in a loss.

NBA continues: ESPN reported Sunday that the NBA has no plans to pause the season, even with players dealing with COVID-19 positive cases, contact tracing quarantines and thin rosters. Philadelphia played with seven players in a recent game; several games have been postponed.

"We anticipate that there would be game postponements this season and planned the schedule accordingly," NBA spokesman Mike Bass told ESPN in a statement.

Bad loss: The Blazers responded with wins, but they had some soul-searching to do after blowing a 20-point lead and losing to Chicago, 111-108.

Coach Terry Stotts expressed disappointment in his team.

"Chicago deserved it because they kept playing," he said. "Chicago played harder, and they got life. They got confidence."

Stats: Through nine games, the Blazers ranked 24th in the 30-team league in defense (115.9 points), just about the same as last season. And, they ranked fourth in scoring (117.9), a bit higher than last season.

Center attention: While Lillard and McCollum lead the point production, and Robert Covington and Derrick Jones Jr. perform yeoman's duty on defense, the two centers have been putting up decent numbers (although Jusuf Nurkic said he hasn't been playing as well as he should be, bothered by a family situation in his native Bosnia).

Nurkic and Enes Kanter are combining to average 21.2 points and 17.5 rebounds. Kanter is shooting .656 from the field through nine games and Nurkic .500.

— Jason Vondersmith


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