McCollum, Blazers dodge bullet as guard has knee strain

C.J. McCollum of the Blazers lies on the court after he being injured Saturday night in San Antonio.

C.J. McCollum and the Portland Trail Blazers breathed a sigh of relief on Sunday as an MRI examination show he avoided serious injury to his left knee.

According to a report by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, McCollum was diagnosed with a popliteus strain in the knee Saturday and will be reevaluated in a week.

McCollum fell to the floor while driving to the bucket with 7:17 to play in the third quarter of a 108-103 loss at San Antonio on Saturday night, immediately clutching his left knee and winced in pain. Teammates gathered around McCollum, who was helped to the locker room by Meyers Leonard and Skal Labissiere.

“I went up for a layup, a left-hand layup, and big fella (former Blazers teammate Jakob Poeltl) blocked it,” McCollum told reporters. “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.”

McCollum has been an iron man for the Trail Blazers through the last four seasons, playing in 309 of 315 games, ranking third in minutes played over that period, behind only James Harden of the Rockets and Andrew Wiggins of the Timberwolves.

“I feel bad for C.J. I hope he’s OK,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said after the game. “He’s a great player and a great kid.”

The 27-year-old is averaging 21.3 points4.0 rebounds and 2.9 assists in 34.1 minutes in 68 games this season for Portland, shooting 46.3 percent from the floor, 38.0 percent from deep and 83.1 percent from the free-throw line.

The 10th overall pick of the 2013 draft out of Lehigh, McCollum carries career averages of 17.9 points, 3.1 board and 2.9 dimes in 30.0 minutes in 409 games (312 starts), with a shooting line of 45.6/40.2/84.0.

Portland (42-27) stood fourth in the Western Conference standings entering play Sunday. The Trail Blazers will host the Indiana Pacers (44-26) on Monday night.