Blazers Look For First Win Of Homestand Versus Wizards

by Casey Holdahl
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The Portland Trail Blazers will look to avoid their first three-game losing streak of the season when they host the Washington Wizards Tuesday night at the Moda Center in the third game of a four-game homestand. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

The Trail Blazers (13-10) looked as though they might be poised to go on a bit of a run after returning from a five-game road trip with a 4-1 record and a three-game winning streak. But they faltered in their first two games back at the Moda Center to the Bucks and Pelicans in games that weren’t as close as their final scores indicated.

“I think we've got arguably the best home-court advantage as far as the fans and the environment,” said Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard. “For them to have the impact that they have it has to be a game. It has to be a game in the fourth quarter and I think we've had a few losses at home where we didn't give ourselves a chance for it to be a game. Against Milwaukee getting down big. Against New Orleans, they took an 18-point lead in the third quarter… So we've had games at home where we didn't give our crowd a chance to have that impact on the game.”

While the Trail Blazers have been stung by two-straight home losses, the Wizards (12-11) have recently been the victim a few bad beats on the home court as well, the most egregious being their 108-105 loss to Portland at Capital One Arena on November 25. In that game, the Wizards were unable to hold off a furious Trail Blazers rally to avoid the home loss despite being up as much as 17 in the fourth quarter.

“I think the most important thing that we got stops,” said CJ McCollum, who scored 13 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter. “We did a good job of holding them to one shot, preventing those second-chance opportunities and then trying to get out and run. Overall you’ve got to credit a lot of guys, a lot of guys did different things. Pat (Connaughton) was great defensively, hit some big free throws down the stretch. Dame (Lillard) was great, (Jusuf Nurkić) was huge for us, everybody. Everybody played a role and allowed us to have the opportunity to come back from being down by so much in the fourth.”

Damian Lillard finished with 29 points, six rebounds and six assists in the victory. Jusuf Nurkić added 17 and Pat Connaughton went 4-of-7 from the field and 2-of-3 from three for 12 points to go with four rebounds, three assists and two steals in 37 minutes.

While playing at home doesn’t seem to have resulted in a competitive advantage for the Trail Blazers this season — they’re currently 7-6 at the Moda Center — they should enter Tuesday night’s game rested considering they haven’t played since Saturday. What’s more, the Wizards will be playing the second night of a back-to-back after taking a 116-69 blowout loss Monday night to the Jazz in Salt Lake City.

Washington All-Star point guard John Wall will sit out Tuesday night’s game with a sore left knee. The 6-4 guard out of Kentucky also missed the previous game versus Portland.

Tuesday night’s game can be seen locally on NBC Sports Northwest with Kevin Calabro, Lamar Hurd and Brooke Olzendam. Brian Wheeler and Michael Holton will have the radio call on Rip City Radio 620 AM and on all of the stations of the Trail Blazers Radio Network.