With impactful contributions across the board, the Portland Trail Blazers came back to defeat the Washington Wizards in a convincing win on Friday, 124-116. Star point guard Damian Lillard got his usual 29 points, but the night belonged to his teammates as well. Anfernee Simons and Josh Hart, in particular, excelled for the starting unit.
But it wasn’t just the starters who shined. Forward Trendon Watford, playing 30 minutes off the bench in the absence of Jusuf Nurkic (strained calf) scored 21 points on just 12 shots, while helping the offense run smoothly. Trail Blazers Head Coach Chauncey Billups made sure to acknowledge him when speaking with reporters after the game.
I pointed him out in the locker room, I’m so proud of Trendon. He fell out of the rotation and just stayed positive, worked his behind off, him and Mark – coach Mark – putting extra work in just to try to stay in shape for whenever his next opportunity came. In this league, you’re always going to get that opportunity, so you can’t worry about when you’re not in, you got to worry about when you’re next going to be in it. He did a great job of that and he’s just continuing to get better and better. I’m just so proud of him, man, he’s just such a good basketball player.
What are some of the things that he gave you, particularly in that second half, that –
Well, his playmaking. His playmaking. When he gets in the middle, when Dame or Ant gets hot and they start to show them extra body, you getting it to Trendon in the pocket and he’s just a playmaker. Whether he’s scoring with his floater tonight or he’s finding guys cutting behind the defense, you feel comfortable when the ball is in his hands. And then I thought he got some tough rebounds too. He was in some tough situations. We played a switching defense; he was guarding a lot of guards. So, I just thought he impacted the game everywhere.
Watford had been DNP’d for seven of the last 15 outings prior to last night’s game but has surged back into the rotation, in part due to injuries and in part due to putting in the work. He has now played more than 20 minutes in his last three contests. The Trail Blazers will need his continued effort moving forward, as Nurkic remains sidelined until the NBA All-Star break.