Depleted Blazers outlast Wizards, 132-121

by Kevin Nesgoda

On the back-end of consecutive road games, the Blazers and Damian Lillard faced a familiar foe: Russell Westbrook and the Washington Wizards. Down five guys, the laborious Blazers fended off endless Wizards comebacks to claim a much-needed 132-121 win.

Lineups

Portland: Damian Lillard, Gary Trent Jr., Rodney Hood, Robert Covington, Enes Kanter

Washington: Russell Westbrook, Bradley Beal, Deni Avdija, Rui Hachimura, Robin Lopez


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Game Recap

First Quarter

The Blazers came out absolutely on fire from three, jumping out to a 26-7 lead in the first six minutes. Robert Covington hit his first three shots (all threes) from each wing and the right corner, while Gary had two triples of his own.

Rodney Hood also had seven points. The most surprising part? Damian Lillard had zero.

A 40-point quarter (and, more importantly, 17-point lead) was exactly what Portland needed to get out a slump after being demolished by the Bucks the night before.

Second Quarter

Westbrook took advantage of CJ Elleby the second he stepped in the game, scoring on two consecutive possessions before Stotts took CJ out. Gary Trent ended the 9-0 Wizards run with back-to-back triples, and the Blazers passed the 50-point mark with over nine minutes left in the quarter.

Beal checked back in and helped cut the lead as low as seven. Kanter continued his regular routine on the offensive end, though, grinding out 12 points and seven boards in the first half.

Kanter picked up his third personal foul with a very questionable call on a jump ball in the second, much to Terry Stotts’ chagrin. Still, Blazers were able to close out the half strong, owning a 75-63 lead at the break. Gary led the way with 17 while Melo had 14.

Third Quarter

Portland jumped out to a 16-point lead to start the second half, fueled by a pair of threes from Dame and another from Gary. Westbrook and Washington pushed back, though, cutting the lead back down to seven once again with yet another 9-0 run.

Just over a minute later, though, and the Blazers had reclaimed a 16-point lead. Covington hit a pair of threes while Gary added a third. Melo added a confident triple in Hachimura’s face to pass Dominique Wilkins for 13th on the all-time scoring list.

Dame scored 12 points in the third quarter alone, and Portland took a 16-point advantage into the fourth.

Fourth Quarter

It was Rodney Hood’s turn to hit a pair of threes, but reading between the lines will tell you Blazers fans were far from safe with another 16-point lead, even with nine minutes left.

Rui Hachimura started heating up for the Wizards, and the rookie forward out of Gonzaga finished with 24 & 5 on the night.

Once again, the Wizards stormed back to cut the lead to seven. Washington scored on five straight possessions and whittled the lead down to four points with four minutes left before Stotts called time.

Gary’s career-high-tying-seventh three of the game (out of nine) was a huge help with three minutes to go, as was a fresh pair of Enes Kanter Offensive Rebounds™. Dame put it to good use—blowing by Westbrook along the baseline and throwing down a vicious dunk—before a solid team defensive stop on the other end.

Back up by double digits with just over a minute left, Dame checked his watch. (Hint: It was 10:30 Eastern, or bedtime for the Wizards.)

Final Thoughts

There were plenty of excuses for the Blazers to lose this game: it was the second night of a tough road back-to-back, missing five players out to injury (including an All-Star candidate and two more would-be starters), and facing the NBA’s leading scorer. Surrendering so many quick-response runs is still a concern, but Portland never stopped producing on offense for more than a few possessions at a time. As a team, the Blazers were 21/46 (45.5%) from three and made all 23 of their free throws.

Player(s) of the Game

Everyone?

The box score says Dame (32p/8a), but I think I’ll go with Carmelo. His 21 bench points were invaluable. RoCo (19p/9r), Gary (26p), Rodney (15p), and Enes (14p/10r) all deserve shouts too, though.

Next Up

The Blazers will continue their Eastern Conference road trip on Thursday in Philadelphia against the first-place 76ers at 5pm.

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