The Portland Trail Blazers secured consecutive victories for the first time in over a month as they walloped the Washington Wizards 125-104 on Wednesday night. Damian Lillard, returning from a six-game absence due to a groin injury, was one of four Blazers who scored more than 20 points as all five starters finished in double-figures. Carmelo Anthony led the way with 24, while Bradley Beal scored a game-high 29 for Washington—with little help from the supporting staff.
The Blazers were held scoreless for the game’s first two and-a-half minutes, until a runner from CJ McCollum finally put them on the board. Portland took their first lead on a pair of Trevor Ariza free throws with 8:05 remaining and the score 9-7. The teams then went back-and-forth for the next few minutes, before the Blazers started to distance themselves by grabbing a 26-19 lead with 4:40 left on an Anthony triple. Portland retained the lead for the remainder of the period, taking a 37-30 advantage into the break.
Anthony finished with 14 points in the frame on 6-8 shooting. Beal paced the Wizards with 12 of his own, going 3-3 from beyond the arc.
McCollum hit the first two shots to put the Blazers up 11, but the Wizards were able to hang around thanks to their proficiency on the offensive glass and slew of Portland turnovers. Washington pulled back within four at the six-minute mark, with the score 50-46. The Blazers re-established control after a timeout, cleaning things up offensively and going back up double-digits with 3:30 remaining as the Wizards went cold. Washington was able to find their offensive rhythm over the final minutes to stop the bleeding, but Portland stayed hot to take a 72-61 lead into halftime.
The Blazers shot 60% from the field for the half, including 56% from three-point land.
Portland started the second half on a 13-3 run, extending their lead to 21 points as Lillard began to catch fire from distance. They would go up as many as 24 in the quarter as everyone got involved offensively. The Blazers took a 100-79 lead into the game’s final stanza, holding the Wizards to just 18 points in the frame.
Washington mounted a run over the first half of the quarter, cutting the margin to 11 points by the 7:30 mark as the Blazers offense cooled with most of the second-unit in the game. Following a timeout, Portland re-inserted their starters and re-gained their hold on the game. The lead soon ballooned back above 20 points as the Blazers cruised to the finish line, winning by a final score of 125-104.
The Blazers clearly benefited from Lillard’s return, as they looked like a vastly different team than the one that played the last six games without him. While Dame only took 12 shots, and deferred to his teammates for much of the night, his presence alone seemed to give the rest of the team a much-needed shot of confidence. Anthony had a particularly efficient performance, going 8-13 from the field and setting the tone in the first quarter.
Portland was able to get everyone involved thanks to excellent ball movement. They racked up 24 assists and were able to get favorable looks—cashing in as they finished over 50% shooting from the field and better than 40% from downtown. They also went 28-32 from the free-throw line, a welcome development considering their recent struggles from the charity stripe.
The Wizards, meanwhile, looked every bit of their 22-39 record. Outside of Beal, Davis Bertans and occasionally Rui Hachimura, nobody was able to get much of anything going offensively. Defensively, they had no answer whatsoever for Portland. While they were playing on the second of a back-to-back, it’s clear that this team’s issues go much further than that, and there’s just not an abundance of talent on the roster.