CLEVELAND — LeBron James may be out of the NBA Playoffs for the first time in 14 years, but that does not mean the Los Angeles Lakers’ small forward is not paying close attention to what is happening in the postseason.
And following the Portland Trail Blazers’ 100-94 road win over the Denver Nuggets in Game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinals, James shouted out a Northeast Ohio native who helped the Pacific Northwest team reach the conference finals for the first time since 2000.
After watching Canton native CJ McCollum score a game-high 37 points, James congratulated him with a Twitter post.
“Way to cook sauce bro!” James wrote. “330 boys is different! Congrats.”
Then, James shouted out McCollum for making a chase-down block, which became one of James’ specialties and helped secure the Cleveland Cavaliers’ Game 7 victory over the Golden State Warriors in the 2016 NBA Finals.
The “330” part of the post referred to the area code for the Akron-Canton region. James is a proud native of Akron and has a street, “King James Way,” named in his honor.
In 45 minutes of play in Game 7, McCollum converted 17 of his 29 attempts and both free throws to go along with nine rebounds, one assist, one steal and one block. Also, McCollum did not commit a turnover and gave up only one personal foul in the win.
McCollum averaged 26.4 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists while shooting 44.6 percent from the field and 37.1 percent from three-point range in the seven-game series against the Nuggets. McCollum scored 41 points in Game 3, 29 in Game 4 and helped force Game 7 with a 30-point showing. Then, with the season on the line, McCollum tallied the 37 points in Game 7.
With the series-clinching victory against the Nuggets, the Trail Blazers advanced to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in 19 years and fourth time in franchise history. They will face the Golden State Warriors in a best-of-seven series to determine who will represent the West in the 2019 NBA Finals.