Damian Lillard scored 40 points and Jusuf Nurkic fell two assists shy of a triple double as the Portland Trail Blazers defeated the Washington Wizards by a score of 119-109 Sunday night. The Blazers led by as many as 29 in the second half and controlled the game from start to finish. The Blazer bench struggled but the starting unit kept the Wizards from every posing a serious threat.
Blazers Starters Streaking
Portland got off to a great start: moving the ball, making good reads, getting good shots, and knocking them down. They started the game hitting 7 of 9 from deep and assisted on 9 of their first 12 shots. The ball movement was as good as we’ve seen from Portland this year. A 19-4 run helped the Blazers gobble up a 32-12 advantage early.
When the Wizards made a run to get within 5 in the first half the Blazers went back to their starters, with the exception of Jake Layman, replaced by Evan Turner. The first unit went on a 23-7 streak to bump the lead to 21 going into halftime. For reference, Jusuf Nurkic was a plus 35 at the half.
Blazers Bench Struggling
Those runs would put most games away early, but the Blazer bench struggled tonight. Their defense couldn't hold one-on-ones and the offense was better at producing turnovers than shots. Evan Turner found a groove, but the rest of the bench was somewhere else in the first half. Zach Collins fouled out in 13 minutes; Nik Stauskas was a non factor tonight.
Extra Sloppy For Ya
The second half was not a fun watch. The Blazers pushed the lead up to 29 at one point but it was a mess on both sides after that. I was watching the game hoping Dame would get 40 and Nurk would get his triple double. Dame got his, but Nurk never came to fruition after the hot start.
Washington made a run late, but the outcome was never in any peril for Portland.
The entire Blazers’ starting unit played really well. The second half was ugly, but a emphatic win on the road in the middle of a long road trip is never easy no matter the opponent. A 35-21 free throw disparity signified the difference of aggression between the two teams. Portland’s bench unit having another subpar game is uninspiring, but the Blazers are not going to lose many games when McCollum, Lillard, and Nurkic play at such a high level.
Damian Lillard- Before this game, no player in the NBA had scored 40 points in a game three different times. Now, one player has. Lillard was phenomenal tonight, most notably in getting into the lane. His 15 free throws stand testament to that.
Jusuf Nurkic - Nurkic might have fallen a couple assists shy of his first career triple double, but watching the game, it felt like was in double figures. He rebounded and defended at a high level, but his passing game was elite. He committed only one turnover too. Portland was significantly better tonight with Nurkic on the floor.
CJ McCollum - Zero assists was a strange sight for a game that featured tremendous ball movement, but McCollum was on the finishing end of multiple plays and finished well. CJ scored 25 points on just 16 shots, adding 7 rebounds.
Anfernee Simons: With Seth Curry still injured, Simons made a first-quarter appearance. Unfortunately, it was not a good one. He struggled mightly on the defensive end of the floor, missed both of his shots, and got his cookies taken by John Wall. He lasted just 5 minutes. Growing pains happen with young players. Simons had a bad outing tonight, but tomorrow comes soon.
The Blazers continue their road trip and play the Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday.