Beal's Record-Setting Night Extends Portland's Home Losing Streak To Three

by Casey Holdahl
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PORTLAND -- The Portland Trail Blazers lost their third-straight game for the first time this season after falling 106-92 to the Washington Wizards in front of a crowd of 19,241 Tuesday night at the Moda Center.

The loss moves the Trail Blazers to 13-11 overall and 7-7 at the Moda Center this season. Portland has lost their last three games at home after winning three-straight on the road.

“I don’t think we’re playing well,” said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. “I think we’ve shown that we can play better with basically the same group of people last year, we know we can play better.”

After going into the second quarter trailing by two, the Trail Blazers were outscored 13-0 at the start of the second quarter, resulting in the Wizards taking a 31-22 lead. By time the first half came to a merciful close, Portland had committed 11 turnovers in the second quarter alone, leading to 13 Wizards points.

And when the Trail Blazers weren’t turning the ball over, they were missing shots, going just 4-of-15 from the field for 15 points in the second quarter. So between fumbling the ball away repeatedly and missing three-fourths of the shots they attempted, Portland scored just 37, their second-lowest scoring half this season, and trailed by 14 at the intermission thanks in large part to 19 first-half points from Wizards guard Bradley Beal.

Portland managed to go on a few runs in the second half — they went 10-0 early in the third quarter to cut the lead to 61-48 and 15-2 in the fourth quarter to get to within 10 with 4:52 to play in regulation — but never got the game to within single digits. What little momentum they were ever able to wrestle away from the road team was quickly snuffed out, either by a strategically-called timeout or a timely three-pointer from Beal, Kelly Oubre Jr. or Markieff Morris.

Even though Portland had shown as recently as a week and a half ago that they couple come back from a double-digit, fourth-quarter deficit to beat the Wizards, fans headed to the exits early, a decision that would ultimately be vindicated by the final score.

"We’re just not playing well," said Damian Lillard. "I think it goes back to the road trip. We didn’t play great but we found ways to win games. We came back home and we just haven’t played well offensively or consistent defensively. We dropped three in a row. Every year at some point adversity is going to hit and I feel like this is the start of a little bit of that adversity for us. We’ve just got to keep playing... We’ve got to address what we’re not doing good enough right now so it doesn’t keep going this direction."

The Trail Blazers were led by Lillard, who scored 25 of his 30 points in the second half to go along with nine assists and eight rebounds in just under 43 minutes. The 6-3 guard out of Weber State has scored at least 30 points in eight games this season.

Jusuf Nurkić finished with 15 points, nine rebounds, two assists and three blocks before leaving the game in the fourth quarter with a sprained right ankle. In a rare piece of good news Tuesday night, x-rays conducted on Nurkić’s ankle came back negative.

Al-Farouq Aminu had his best game since returning from injury, going 5-of-8 from three to finish with 17 points and six assists in 36 minutes. Aminu, along with Maurice Harkless, started Tuesday night’s game in place of Pat Connaughton and Noah Vonleh.

“This was the first time since (Aminu) got hurt that we could get back to the lineup that was our best lineup to start the season,” said Stotts of his decision to start Aminu and Harkless. “Chief and Moe have played well together, that lineup was our starting lineup at the beginning of the season because it was our best lineup. That was the primary reason. Also, I thought moving Pat to the bench would kind of help the flow of the second unit.”

But the real start Tuesday night was Beal. The 6-5 guard in his sixth season out of Florida set the record for most points scored by a Trail Blazers opponent in Portland with 51 points on 21-of-37 shooting from the field and 5-of-12 shooting from three. The previous record of 49 points was held by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Lou Hudson in 1972 and 1970, respectively.

“(Beal) shot really well, scored in a variety of ways," said Stotts. "Scored in transition, scored off of isolation, scored off of off-ball movements, scored off kick-outs. I can’t remember the last time I saw someone take 37 shots. That’s a lot of shots. He had an outstanding night."

Beal joins Lebron James and James Harden as the only players to eclipse the 50-point mark in a game this season.

Oubre Jr. finished with 14 points, two rebounds, two assists and five steals. Mike Scott went a perfect 5-of-5 from the field for 10 points. All told, the Wizards' bench outscored the Trail Blazers' 34-12.

Next up the Trail Blazers finish off what could only be described as a disastrous homestand by hosting the Houston Rockets, currently sitting in first-place in the Western Conference, Saturday night. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 pm.