SAN ANTONIO — Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum suffered what the team called a left leg injury Saturday night that forced him out of action for good during a 108-103 loss to the San Antonio Spurs.
McCollum said X-rays taken at the AT&T Center came back negative. He will undergo an MRI on his left knee on Sunday after traveling back to Portland with the team.
“I don’t have a lot of information besides it’s painful,” McCollum said. “I didn’t hear anything pop. It was just an immediate discomfort and pain. It was an uncomfortable feeling. You never want to leave the court like that, but it happens.”
McCollum crashed to the floor after a drive to the basket with 7:17 remaining in the third quarter, and he appeared to immediately clutch his left knee as he winced in pain. Teammates huddled around McCollum near the basket, with Skal Labissiere and Meyers Leonard eventually helping him to the locker room.
“I went up for a layup, a left-hand layup, and big fella (former Blazer Jakob Poeltl) blocked it,” McCollum said. “I landed on my foot, kind of trapped my foot on the ground, felt my knee kind of twist. I was in pain. It hurts. You never want to get hurt, man. Not ever, especially at this point in the season. There’s nothing I can do about it but rehab and see what they say. I can walk, but I’m not sure what the extent of it is. Obviously, on the replay it’s hard to kind of see it because my foot is trapped and his body is there. But there’s some discomfort, some pain in certain areas. So we’ll see what happens. It’s definitely around my knee, but I don’t know the extent of it. I don’t know if it’s lateral. I don’t know. I just know that it’s not normal.”
Despite the injury, McCollum was able to put weight on his left foot on the way to the locker room. After the game, McCollum was able to walk, but he clearly was moving gingerly on his left leg.
Headed into the matchup against the Spurs, the Trail Blazers had recorded a 115.6 offensive efficiency when McCollum was on the floor with star guard Damian Lillard. But with McCollum off the floor and Lillard by himself, Portland’s number drops to 102.2, which ranks last in the NBA.
While it’s too early for Portland to start looking at ways to replace McCollum’s production, the team understands the very real possibility exists.
“We’ll see how the injury is, and we’ll adjust after that,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. “I don’t want to make any assumptions until we know how CJ is.”
Lillard said he immediately felt concern when seeing McCollum hit the floor with San Antonio clinging to a 56-54 lead in the third quarter.
“I think, firstly, you’re concerned about his health as a person beyond the game,” Lillard said. “You don’t want to see that happen. And then he’s so big for our team that you just get concerned for that, too. That’s a big blow. He’s a guy that plays a huge role for us and is a big part of our team. You never want to see that. Once I saw him stay down, I knew he was really hurt. So that was my biggest concern, just seeing him stay down because usually he’ll get up and try to play, or get up and try to walk it off. But he was down. So hopefully, he’ll be all right.
Over the past four seasons, McCollum has played 309 out of a possible 315 games, including Saturday. He ranks third in total minutes played over that span, trailing only James Harden and Andrew Wiggins.
McCollum entered the contest averaging 21.5 points to go with 4.1 rebounds and 2.9 assists. He left the floor after scoring 10 points on 5-of-13 shooting in 22 minutes.
“In the next day, we’ll know what we’ll have to do and what we’ll look like going forward,” Lillard said. “If [McCollum’s injury] is something major, it’s going to really hurt our team. We’re going to be praying that that’s not the case. Hopefully, even if he needs to miss a few games or whatever to get healthy, hopefully it’s one of those things, and not a ‘he’s not going to come back’ type of thing.”