Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum square off as opponents for first time Thursday at New Orleans: ‘It’s going to be fun’

Not surprisingly, Damian Lillard and former Trial Blazers teammate CJ McCollum remain close friends.

In fact, Lillard and his former teammate of 10 years and current New Orleans guard recently exchanged text messages just a couple of days before Thursday night’s matchup between the Blazers (8-3) and the Pelicans (6-5) at the Smoothie King Center.

It’s a game that will see Lillard and McCollum square off as opponents for the first time.

Yet, according to Lillard, that subject never came up nor is he overly psyched up for the showdown.

“First of all, I look forward to every opportunity to compete,” Lillard said in the Blazers locker room following his team’s 105-95 win at the Hornets. “Obviously, with him, it’s going to be fun. We’re finally going to be on opposite sides. But it’s not like, ‘Oh, I can’t wait to challenge CJ.’ They are a good team. We’re a good team. I’m sure it’s going to be a competitive game and we’ll see what happens.”

Lillard and McCollum formed one of the best backcourt duos in the NBA for seven seasons starting in 2015 before the Blazers traded McCollum last February. McCollum returned to Portland when the Pelicans played at the Blazers on Mar. 30. He received several long ovations from Blazers fans and scored 25 points to lead the Pelicans to a 117-107 victory at the Moda Center. McCollum faced the Blazers again, this time at home, on April 7 and had 23 points during a 127-94 New Orleans victory.

But Lillard missed both games, having already been ruled out for the season following core muscle surgery in January.

“It’s weird because I’ve never played against CJ unless I was practicing,” Lillard said. “We played against each other in practice a lot. Seeing him in a different uniform is weird enough. Playing against him is gonna be even more different.”

The obviously intriguing storyline wasn’t lost on Lillard. He simply chose to view the game as just one of 82 that just happens to be against an old friend.

“We’ve got to line it up,” Lillard said. “It is what it is. He plays for New Orleans. I play for Portland. I’m sure they are going to come out and try to get a win just like we are going to be out there trying to get a win. And he’s competitive. I know him very well. So, I know he’s played against us already and it’s been a lot of time but I’m sure he’s still going to take it personally.”

— Aaron Fentress reported from Charlotte, North Carolina.

— Aaron Fentress | afentress@Oregonian.com | @AaronJFentress (Twitter), @AaronJFentress (Instagram), @AaronFentress (Facebook). Subscribe to Oregonian/OregonLive newsletters and podcasts

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply

Lazy Cork
Enable registration in settings - general
Compare items
  • Total (0)
Shopping cart