Portland saw the return of their leading scorer despite a torn ligament in his thumb, and he helped bring the win at home.
LaMarcus Aldridge had 26 points and 9 rebounds, Wesley Matthews had 19 and the Portland Trail Blazers overcame a slow start to overcome the Washington Wizards, 103-96, Saturday night at Moda Center.
Aldridge had a strong first quarter, thumb injury and all, scoring ten points and grabbing four rebounds. Unfortunately, the Blazers as a team were late to the game. The rest of the starting lineup for the Blazers shot just 1-of-9 in the quarter. Portland missed its first nine shots, and did not hit a field goal until the 7:55 mark of the quarter. Washington took advantage with a 13-2 run, leading in the quarter by as many as 14. The Wizards would lead by 12 after one.
Portland found their range in the second quarter, but Washington's strong shooting kept the home team at bay. After shooting 0-for-6 from three point range in the first, the Blazers shot 5-of-8 in the second to rally as close as four. Matthews and Damian Lillard had seven each to lead Portland. The Wizards maintained by shooting 50% from the field in the second quarter and 55% from the field in the half. Nene Hilario had 15 to lead Washington, who kept a 10 point lead at halftime.
The Blazer defense clamped down on Washington in the third quarter, holding them to just 15 points. Aldridge and Matthews both had six in the period, with Aldridge hitting an 18-foot shot to give Portland its first lead with 1:31 left in the quarter. Former Blazer Andre Miller answered for Washington, who led by one after three.
Portland and Washington exchanged the lead in the fourth quarter, with the Wizards leading by four after baskets by John Wall and Bradley Beal. Matthews responded with back-to-back threes, giving Portland a two point advantage with 3:28 remaining. Portland would expand the lead to seven, but Washington closed the gap again. With the Blazers leading by three with 1:08 remaining, Hilario fouled out by hitting Meyers Leonard on a three point shot. Leonard hit all three free throws. With Portland leading by three with 23 seconds remaining, Matthews missed a three, but Dorell Wright grabbed the rebound, and Lillard drained the clock down to 13 seconds before being fouled. He hit both free throws to put the game out of reach.
Dorell Wright led the bench scoring with 10. Lillard had 20 points and 7 assists. Allen Crabbe started for the injured Nicolas Batum, but played just seven minutes in the first quarter and did not record a shot.
Gameday Thread Comments of the Night
Thanks to all who participated in tonight's Gameday Thread! Here were the most popular comments based on user recommendations:
The Trail Blazers are the NBA's second team this season to record 20 home wins (20-5), joining Golden State. #PORvsWAS— Trail Blazers PR (@TrailBlazersPR) January 25, 2015
LaMarcus Aldridge just got a curtain call walking off the court from PA announcer Mark Mason. Feels like that's a new one.— Erik Gundersen (@blazerbanter) January 25, 2015
Portland has now outscored opponents by 217 points in the second half and 131 points in the fourth quarter, both the best marks in the NBA.— Trail Blazers PR (@TrailBlazersPR) January 25, 2015
The Trail Blazers finished the night 20-for-20 from the foul line, including 15-for-15 in the fourth quarter (h/t @PDXjay). #PORvsWAS— Trail Blazers PR (@TrailBlazersPR) January 25, 2015
Portland shot 100% from the free throw line with 20+ attempts for the seventh time in team history and first since 3/22/12 vs. Memphis.— Trail Blazers PR (@TrailBlazersPR) January 25, 2015
LA on broadcast "I heard that tonight would be special 4 me but I didn't think the city would react the way they did. It was very humbling"— Amy Schwartz (@TheAmySchwartz) January 25, 2015
LaMarcus Aldridge's 26 points are the most scored in the NBA tonight (five games). #PORvsWAS— Trail Blazers PR (@TrailBlazersPR) January 25, 2015
Less than a week after being told he's out for 6-8 weeks, LaMarcus Aldridge drops game-high 26 points to lead Blazers over Wizards, 103-96.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 25, 2015
Nicolas Batum tells me tonight that he suffered a torn ligament on the outside of his right wrist in the Dec. 17 fall against Milwaukee— Jason Quick (@jwquick) January 25, 2015
Look Ma, one hand #NeverSayDie #RIPCITY pic.twitter.com/Hj3hW18GQr— Robin Lopez (@rolopez42) January 25, 2015
#Blazers shot just 40.2% from field to Wizards' 48.8, but they outscored Wiz 39-15 on three-pointers.— Mike Tokito (@mtokito) January 25, 2015
Batum said he continued to play through the injury and continually re-aggravated it. Said he doesn't know if he will rest or play on trip— Jason Quick (@jwquick) January 25, 2015
And keep in mind: sprain is technically a torn ligament, so Blazers weren't hiding anything. They always referred to it as a sprained wrist— Jason Quick (@jwquick) January 25, 2015
Dorell on the late o-reb: Saw Paul Pierce "looking in the sky" and he just grabbed the ball #Blazers #Wizarda— Jabari Young (@JabariJYoung) January 25, 2015
"Sounded right to me." @Dame_Lillard on the MVP chants for LA #Blazers— Amy Schwartz (@TheAmySchwartz) January 25, 2015
Reminded he was "pissed" once he heard Aldridge was out, Mathews was asked to revise, saying: "The exact opposite of pissed" #Blazers— Jabari Young (@JabariJYoung) January 25, 2015
Said Mathews on the return of Aldridge: "It feels like a belated Christmas" #Blazers— Jabari Young (@JabariJYoung) January 25, 2015
"I just want to win." Aldridge on why he played. #Blazers— Amy Schwartz (@TheAmySchwartz) January 25, 2015
LaMarcus @aldridge_12 said that if he gets selected for the All-Star Game, he's playing— Casey Holdahl (@CHold) January 25, 2015
'@wessywes2 on when he learned L.A. would play: "Thought it was glitch in my phone. NBA Gametime app popped up and said L.A. will play."— kerry eggers (@kerryeggers) January 25, 2015
Aldridge on evaluating the thumb "Just play until it’s untolerable." #Blazers— Amy Schwartz (@TheAmySchwartz) January 25, 2015
Aldridge on if his thumb hurt after the game: "Of course."— Erik Gundersen (@blazerbanter) January 25, 2015
Talk about toughness and veteran leadership. So selfless. That's big time @aldridge_12 .. Setting the bar for this team #Respect #RipCity— Meyers Leonard (@MeyersLeonard11) January 25, 2015
"If I’m selected, I’m gonna play. I’m not gonna go through this and not play. That’s weird." Aldridge on All-Star game #Blazers— Amy Schwartz (@TheAmySchwartz) January 25, 2015
LA said the post-game curtain call was a 1st "I didn't even know that he was waiting on me. It was kind of surreal. That was a fun moment."— Erik Gundersen (@blazerbanter) January 25, 2015
Aldridge said, for now, he's retired the swat strip on defense. Said it's a tough adjustment because "that's who I am"— Mike Richman (@mikegrich) January 25, 2015
The evolution of @aldridge_12 as the leader of @trailblazers has been fascinating to watch. What he did Saturday took things to a new level!— Brian Wheeler (@blazerwheels) January 25, 2015
.@nicolas88batum (right wrist) told me after the game that he'll go on road trip but doesn't know if he'll play Mon. @ Nets. #RipCity— Jay Allen (@PDXjay) January 25, 2015
All the glory goes to God! Thanks for the support.— Lamarcus Aldridge (@aldridge_12) January 25, 2015
On Saturday @aldridge_12 lifted the spirits of legions of @trailblazers fans. What he did both on & off the court was well...special!— Brian Wheeler (@blazerwheels) January 25, 2015
Wes on LA "He can't sit out. He doesn't want to sit out. He loves this game and figures if he's got something to give, he's going to give."— Amy Schwartz (@TheAmySchwartz) January 25, 2015
'@MeyersLeonard11 on @aldridge_12: "There was a trickle-down effect. He was toughing it out. That's a true leader move. He truly cares."— kerry eggers (@kerryeggers) January 25, 2015
Matthews on Aldridge: ``He loves this game and figures if he's got something to give, he's going to give."— Anne M. Peterson (@AnnieMPeterson) January 25, 2015
Aldridge: "It felt OK. There were a few moments where I got hit or whatever, and it was kind of tender. But for the most part it was OK."— Anne M. Peterson (@AnnieMPeterson) January 25, 2015
Full Matthews quote on how he first found out about Aldridge coming back pic.twitter.com/vU5FPZXE3T— Erik Gundersen (@blazerbanter) January 25, 2015
VIDEO: LaMarcus Aldridge hits a tough hook shot in the first quarter.
VIDEO: Thomas Robinson finishes a nice dish from Steve Blake with a one-handed dunk.
VIDEO: Damian Lillard finds Chris Kaman in the lane for a layup.
VIDEO: Dorell Wright completes a scramble play with a four-point play.