Photo / Bruce Ely

Fifth Straight Win in Sight as Blazers Host Wizards

by Cody Sharrett

Riding their first four-game winning streak of the season, a fifth consecutive victory is within the Portland Trail Blazers' (28-35) reach as they host the Washington Wizards (40-24) Saturday night at Moda Center. The game is set to be televised locally on CSNNW. 

Saturday's contest features a matchup between two of the NBA's best backcourts as Portland's Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum take on Washington's tandem of John Wall and Bradley Beal. At a combined 49.2 points per game, Lillard and McCollum are the league's highest scoring backcourt with Wall and Beal's 46 points per game just behind them in the NBA ranks of guard duos. 

"They're a very, very good backcourt," McCollum said of his competition. "They're playing extremely well this year. I think they've developed a lot more chemistry.

"We look forward to the challenge of playing every night, especially when you're going against guys who are elite players."

Another matchup to keep an eye on will be in the paint between Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkić and Wizards big man Marcin Gortat. Nurkić, nicknamed the "Bosnian Beast," is coming off the first performance of 28 points, 20 rebounds, eight assists, six blocks since Charles Barkley recorded the feat in 1986 and has injected new life into the Blazers lineup since joining the team in a trade with Denver in mid-February. Gortat, dubbed the "Polish Hammer," carries averages of 11.4 points and 11.8 rebounds into Saturday's contest. 

"I think it’s every night a challenge," Nurkić said of the matchup. "You have the best league in the world, so every night it’s competing against every team. I don’t see Gortat like something extreme, but it’s a guy I have to respect like everybody in the league."

The Blazers lost their previous meeting with the Wizards, 120-101, in a visit to the Nation's Capital on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Head coach Terry Stotts hopes his team can learn from watching film of one of its worst performances of the season and adjust to some new faces in the Washington lineup. 

"Unfortunately, I'm going to be watching [the film] later today; I'm not looking forward to that one," Stotts said Friday afternoon. "They're starters have been very proficient, but I think they've bolstered their bench. When you add players, it takes a while but they're formidable."

Tipoff is for Saturday's game is set for 7pm as Kevin Calabro, Lamar Hurd and Brooke Olzendam lead coverage on CSNNW. Brian Wheeler describes the play on Rip City Radio 620 and the Trail Blazers mobile app.