Blazers Finish Off Fourth-Quarter Rally To Beat The Wizards In DC

by Casey Holdahl
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WASHINGTON DC -- It is often said that basketball is a game of runs. That adage was never more true than it was Saturday night in Washington DC, with Trail Blazers and Wizards trading runs throughout all four quarters. But Portland would get the last and most important run, closing the game out by scoring the last 10 points to come away with a come-from-behind 108-105 victory at Capital One Arena on Terry Stotts' 60th birthday

"Well, the ball was nice but the win was great," said Stotts of being given the game ball signed by the entire team. "It's not about my birthday, that was a big-time win. To come in here down by 17, and to not quit, and find a way to make plays at both ends. A lot of guys made good plays in the fourth quarter, we needed one of those."

The Trail Blazers are now 12-8 overall, 6-4 on the road this season and have won three of their last four road games.

In a harbinger of things to come, the Trail Blazers starting the game by outscoring the Wizards 11-4, with Jusuf Nurkić, Noah Vonleh and Pat Connaughton all getting dunks to get Portland going early. Then it was Washington's turn. Led by Bradley Beal, the Wizards used a 17-4 run to take a 21-15 lead with 3:52 to play in the first quarter, though Portland would answer back to cut the lead to 30-27 going int into the second quarter.

After a Kelly Oubre Jr's and-one to gave the Wizards their first double-digit lead of the night at 43-33 with 7:02 to play in the second quarter, the Trail Blazers went 8-0 to trim Washington's lead to 43-41. But then the Wizards held the Trail Blazers scoreless for the final 3:23 of the first half to take a 52-41 lead into the intermission.

Portland would find themselves down by 15 early in the third quarter, but once again were able to go on a run, this time of the 14-2 variety, to once again significantly cut into Washington's lead. But the Wizards finished the third quarter out strong, just as they had in the two previous quarters, to push their lead back to 10 by the start of the fourth quarter.

That lead would swell to 17 after Oubre Jr. hit a 14-footer to put the Wizards up 94-77, and at that point, it seemed as though Portland's luck and legs -- Saturday's game was the second of a back-to-back for the visitors -- had run out.

But that would not be the case. Instead of folding up, the Trail Blazers pushed back yet again though a combination of stellar defense from Nurkić and Connaughton and uncommon shot-making from CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard.

That combination would result in Portland finishing the game by outscoring Washington 31-11 in the final eight minutes to regulation to come away with the three-point victory while pulling off the biggest fourth-quarter comeback in the NBA this season thus far.

“I think the most important thing is we got stops," said McCollum. "We did a good job to holding them to one shot and limiting them to second chances opportunities and then trying to get out and run. Overall, you got to credit a lot of guys. A lot of guys did different things, and Pat (Connaughton) was great defensively, hit some big free-throws down the stretch and Dame was great, Nurk was huge for us. Everybody, everybody played a role in allowing us to have an opportunity to come back being down by so much in the fourth."

The Trail Blazers were led by Lillard, who went 9-of-17 from the field and 9-of-10 from the free throw line for 29 points to go with six rebounds and six assists in 41 minutes.

McCollum scored 13 points in the fourth quarter and 24 points in the second half to finish with 26 points, four rebounds and three assists in 33 minutes.

Nurkić struggled from the field but made a number of key defensive plays late to finish with 17 points on 7-of-17 shooting, five rebounds, four assists and three blocks.

Connaughton, starting just the third game of his career, added 12 points, including two free throws to ice the game, four rebounds and three assists. Noah Vonleh went for eight points and 10 rebounds and Ed Davis added eight points and six rebounds.

Beal led the Wizards with 26 points and seven assists in 35 minutes. Otto Porter finished with a double-double of 24 points and 10 rebounds in just under 37 minutes. Tim Frazier, who started in place of John Wall, who sat out Saturday's game due to soreness in his left knee, added 11 points in 28 minutes.

Next up, the Trail Blazers finish up a five-game road trip by heading back to New York to face the Knicks at Madison Square Garden Monday night. Tipoff is scheduled for 4:30 p.m.