The Portland Trail Blazers came into the Nation’s Capital looking to break their five-game losing streak. Coming into the matchup the Blazers have the better talent in the starting lineup. The Washington Wizards are started Isaiah Thomas and Gary Payton II in their starting line up.
The Blazers allegedly worked on their defense all day in practice yesterday. This is the first time all season that I’ve heard that the Blazers have worked on their defense. I’m sure they have at various points in practice, but this is the first time it seems like they have focused on it.
Tonight was the night they did break the streak, beating the Wizards, 122-103.
Thomas ejected less than a minute and a half into the game for shoving an official. The Wizards needed him to be able to keep up with the Blazers guards in scoring tonight. Ish Smith is going to have to play 45 minutes tonight for the Wizards at point guard. This is great news for both Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, and Carmelo Anthony. The Wizards switch on the wings a lot so we can see Smith a lot on Melo during switches.
Blazers immediately go on a 7-0 after the ejection.
Whiteside and Melo are eating up the Wizards off the switches. Both men have a combined 12 points and 9 rebounds through the initial six minutes of the first quarter. CJ McCollum has been taking Gary Payton II to the rim a lot lately. Payton has 16 steals over his last four games and has looked a lot like his dad on defense. CJ is making him look like Steve Scheffler.
I type that and Payton gets his first steal of the game. Stole a bad pass from Anfernee Simons.
The Blazers defense has not improved much from their focus yesterday. They somehow gave up 31 points in the first quarter with the Wizards three best guards not playing. As predicted on Twitter, Ish Smith is going to be a handful tonight.
Mario Hezonja is attacking hard tonight. He has seven points in five minutes of action so far tonight. He’s really attacking the basket and finding teammates as well. He’s also playing solid defense tonight as well. Bazemore strokes a three and the Blazers take their first lead in a while, 44-41 halfway through the second.
Carmelo is getting a lot of love on the road. He should be on the All-Star team this year. Who knows how much longer he actually has left. He looks like he could play at least another two years after this. This is back to back games he’s gotten cheered every time he’s checked in or touched the ball.
The Blazers actually closed out a half strongly and held a 66-58 lead going into the break.
Damian Lillard and CJ Mc Collum came out hot in the third quarter and helped the Blazers push their lead out to 16 points. Both guys were aggressive and attacked everyone on the court. Mario Hezonja has also been a blessing tonight. The Blazers bench would be individually outscored by four bench players on the Wizards bench if not for him.
The Wizards cut the lead down to six points in the fourth quarter. Jordan McCrae has been wicked hot all night for the Wizards. He has that ability to score a lot of points in a hurry, his only issue is that he doesn’t do it very often. Tonight was one of those nights that he was knocking down everything.
Damian Lillard was more than up to matching the challenge. Every time McCrae hit a big shot, Dame would come back and match him in some form.
Carmelo Anthony hit a three from the corner to push the lead back up to 16, 113-97.
Lillard had 35 to lead the Blazers, CJ added 24, Whiteside had 23-21-5, Melo had 16.
The Blazers head to Miami on Sunday for a 3:00 PM tip.