The Portland Trail Blazers returned home to the Moda Center Tuesday and ended a three-game losing streak against the Washington Wizards in a 116-109 overtime thriller, much influenced by the stellar play of Damian Lillard, who outplayed his counterpart in John Wall to steal the victory.
The Blazers were led by Lillard (41 points, 11 assists, 5 rebounds), CJ McCollum (18 points, 3 rebounds) and Ed Davis (9 points, 15 rebounds, 4 assists).
The Wizards were led by Wall (20 points, 11 assists) and Marcin Gortat (19 points, 10 rebounds).
Portland looked a bit rusty out of the gates, starting the evening with some downright ugly basketball. Careless passing coughed up two early turnovers, as Washington's pressure on the Blazer backcourt forced empty possessions as the supporting cast couldn't pick up the slack.
The Wizards had jumped out to a quick four-point lead before Lillard and McCollum combined for 13 points, including back-to-back-to-back three-pointers to jet Portland ahead 15-10. Lillard would follow up with an acrobatic layup finish around Gortat, and then yet another dead-eye three which pushed the lead to eight at 25-17.
With just over a minute to go in the first quarter, Gerald Henderson got tangled up with Alan Anderson for a moment as they came together fighting for position. At first glance the scuffle didn't look like much, but replay clearly showed Anderson throw an elbow at Henderson's face as they came together after the play. Both players appropriately received technicals, but the elbow was enough for lead official Zach Zarba to toss Anderson - who entered the contest under a minutes restriction, no less.
End of First: Portland 29, Washington 22
Henderson made some more noise during the second, but this time without a physical altercation - as Washington closed the gap to within four, Gerald led a brilliant give-and-go with Davis out of an inbounds play, earning himself a highlight and-1 dunk over rookie Kelly Oubre Jr.
He didn't stop there, picking up another and-1 later in the period and following it up with a thunderous baseline dunk on the next possession.
Three fouls for CJ McCollum forced him to the bench and all of a sudden the Blazers' 10-point lead was cut to even. Fouls came aplenty, and while John Wall didn't shoot particularly well from the field, he capably created offense for his teammates, including finding Jared Dudley in the closing seconds for a wide-open three which restored the Wizard lead at 55-52. Brian Roberts - filling in for McCollum - managed to score on a layup at the other end, but Washington had succeeded in seizing the momentum heading into the locker room.
Halftime: Portland 54, Washington 55
The hemorrhaging continued into the third, as the Wizards scored the first eight points of the quarter to extend their lead to double-digits at 65-54 on Gortat's and-1 tip-in. Portland just couldn't get anything doing, falling behind as much as 13 just minutes into the second half.
But the Blazers would fight back - McCollum connected on a three, Leonard drilled a foul line leaner and Lillard followed up a quiet second period where he only scored two points with an explosive 10 in the third, including his fourth three of the night to tie the game at 71 just over halfway through the quarter.
Allen Crabbe's free throws restored Portland's lead, and following Wall's driving dunk in traffic Leonard buried another three to push the advantage to four.
End of Third: Portland 85, Washington 81
Both teams stalled for the first several minutes of the opening frame, but slowly the Wizards would cut into the defecit. Ramon Sessions continued his strong outing, scoring twice early in the fourth on cuts to the basket and finding Nene on an alley-oop lob to close within just two at 92-90.
Crabbe nailed a three, and Lillard had a chance at two would-be dagger threes which could have given the Blazers a comfortable lead with four minutes remaining, but Washington dutifully battle back yet again behind two buckets from Gortat, and then Dudley's back-to-back threes gave the Wizards a 101-98 lead.
Portland managed to tie the game with free throws from Davis and Lillard, but Wall drained a clutch 18-footer at the other end to restore Washington's two-point lead with just 16 seconds remaining. With Lillard well-covered on the inbounds, coach Terry Stotts ran a play for McCollum and he delivered, knocking down an elbow fadeway with five seconds left on the clock.
On the final possession of regulation Gortat had his hook shot rejected by Henderson at the rim, and Wall's last-second three was well off the mark as time expired.
End of Fourth: Portland 104, Washington 104
Overtime was controlled by Lillard and Davis - Dame rushed the Blazers out to a quick five-point lead to start the extra period and "Easy Ed" dominated the boards, corralling two big-time offensive rebounds to help keep the advantage intact. After Wall's miss at the other end, Lillard put down a tough runner against Wall which would end up to be the clincher.
The Blazers hit the road again for a rematch against the defending champs in Oakland when they take on the Golden State Warriors Friday at 7:30 pm. Stay tuned to Blazer's Edge tonight, for extended analysis of this game from Dave Deckard.
-- Ryan Rosback | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter