Pelicans’ CJ McCollum scores 42 points, cuts team-high to 11 3s

NEW ORLEANS — With 1:48 left in the fourth quarter of Friday night’s game with the Philadelphia 76ers, the New Orleans Pelicans showed a graphic on the big screen celebrating CJ McCollum’s big night.

McCollum continued with a season-high 42 points and 11 3-pointers, and as he waited for the game to restart, he looked up and spotted himself on the screen.

He smiled, clasped his hands, and bowed quickly. He then begged the sold-out Smoothie King Center crowd to cheer as the Pelicans finished the Sixers with a 127-116 win.

β€œI know this is something that doesn’t last forever,” McCollum said. “You can’t play forever. You can’t have these moments forever. I was trying to digest it all.”

McCollum’s 3-pointer record broke Peja Stojakovic’s old record set by 103 3-pointers for the then New Orleans Hornets in the November 6, 2007 win over the Los Angeles Lakers. He also hit double-digit 3s in a game for the first time in McCollum’s career. Its previous peak was nine.

The record-breaking 3-pointer came with 2:30 left in the fourth quarter, after a steal from a Joel Embiid pass. McCollum dribbled the field and took a left wing pass for the 3-pointer.

He said he knew he had 10 3-pointers before that shot, but didn’t realize he was approaching the franchise record.

β€œTo be honest with you, I was trying to score as many 3s as possible,” McCollum said.

It was the second consecutive 40-point game for a Pelicans player after Zion Williamson smashed a career-high 43 points Wednesday night. Williamson had another big night with 36 points on 13/19 shooting on Friday.

McCollum and Williamson are the sixth teammate pair in Pelicans history to score 35 points in the same game (regular season and postseason). The last time Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday hit that goal in the playoffs against the Portland Trail Blazers was on April 21, 2018.

Williamson said he didn’t realize McCollum had made 11 3-pointers. But that was because of how McCollum shot his shots.

“None of the 3s looked forced,” Williamson said. “I think that’s what made him look so good. None of his shots looked forced. It was all in rhythm and it was all on offense.”

McCollum’s 42 was his highest in a game since joining the Pelicans at the trade deadline, and Williamson’s 79 in the last two games was his career-high in a two-game span.

According to ESPN Stats and Information research, Williamson has scored 35 or more points in a 65% shooting rate for the third time in his career. This has been done only once in the history of the Pelicans (Anthony Davis).

The duo’s big night helped Embiid and James Harden get through their big night. Embiid scored 37 points in his fourth straight 35-point game to set the longest winning streak of his career. With 20 points and 10 assists, Harden joined Wilt Chamberlain on a five-game winning streak in 1968, becoming the second player in franchise history to score at least 20 points and 10 assists in four games in a row.

Philadelphia picked up back guard Tyrese Maxey, whose leg has been broken since November 18. Maxey came out of the bench and played in just under 19 minutes and finished with nine points on 4v10.

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