Damian Lillard provided the spark early, Jusuf Nurkic did some heavy lifting along the way and CJ McCollum was the hero late Saturday as the Portland Trail Blazers used an exciting 18-4 run to seize an improbable 108-105 win on the road against the Washington Wizards.
McCollum had seven of his 26 points during the final 90 seconds, including the go ahead bucket as the Blazers recovered from a 17-point deficit in the final frame to pull off one of the more impressive comebacks in recent team memory.
The win also happened to coincide with coach Terry Stotts’s 60th birthday.
Lillard led the way for Portland with 29 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists and Nurkic turned in another solid outing with 17 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 blocks.
Again facing an opponent recently hamstrung by injury, as Washington just learned today it would be facing at least the next two weeks without its star point guard in John Wall, it was Portland instead which looked out of sorts for much of the evening. After hanging tight for the opening period, the Blazers endured another dry spell offensively during the second quarter, managing only 14 points and forcing Portland into another uphill battle on the second night of a back-to-back.
Helping make up Wall’s absence by committee, Otto Porter was superb, bullying smaller Blazer defenders in the post all night and posting 24 points to go along with 10 boards. Wall’s fellow backcourt mate Bradley Beal was also stroking it, adding 26 points of his own as Washington looked fully in control.
The Wizards used a 7-0 run to pull ahead by double-digits at 43-33 on Kelley Oubre Jr.’s and-1 runner midway through the second period, and while the Blazers at times managed to cut the deficit within a single possession - once with Nurkic’s spinning hook just before halftime at 41-43 and then midway through the third quarter at 62-59 after a McCollum three - Washington always seemed to have an answer.
At least, that seemed the direction the game was headed.
Trailing 101-90 with 4:32 to go everything went to Crazy Land. Portland, which up to that point had show few inklings of the ability to slow down the Wiz’s hot shooters, finally got stops. And Blazer scorers, who up to that point had their own bright spots individually, finally started clicking together.
McCollum in particular was all but due to come alive late after early foul trouble limited him to just two points in the first half, and then it was the trio of himself, Lillard and Nurkic which combined for 16 of Portland’s 18 points during the decisive final run.
Pat Connaughton, who iced two free throws with 2.3 seconds to go to extend a three point lead, had a strong showing in his second start with 12 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists in 37 minutes.
Beal had a good look to potentially win the game for Washington with six seconds remaining, but his foul-line leaner bounced twice off the rim and into the hands of Connaughton.
The result was one heck of an unlikely win that will leave lots to talk about.
Lillard stops on a dime, drops a floater to keep the game close pic.twitter.com/VGEZ6MojZe— NBC Sports Northwest (@NBCSNorthwest) November 26, 2017
The Blazers will conclude the five game road trip Monday in New York against the surprisingly-relevant Knicks - Early afternoon tip is set for 4 p.m.