Winning Streak Ends Due To Inconsistency Versus Wizards

by Casey Holdahl
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PORTLAND -- After keeping a winning streak alive through a three-game homestand and a three-game road trip, the Portland Trail Blazers saw their run ended Saturday night with a 118-111 loss to the Washington Wizards at the Moda Center.

“We shot 16 percent in the second quarter, we shot 25 percent in the fourth quarter, score 80 points in the first and third quarters combined,” said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. “I don’t know if it’s been done where a team makes 13 more threes and loses the game.”

The Trail Blazers are now 18-11 overall and 8-6 at home this season. The loss ends a six-game winning streak for the Trail Blazers and snaps a four-game winning streak versus the Wizards dating back to the 2018-19 season.

Had the Trail Blazers been able to play consistently through all four quarters, it’s very possible they would have kept their winning streak alive before going out on a three-game trip versus three of the top teams on the Western Conference standings.

But for as good as they were in the first and third quarters -- they went 27-of-56 from the field and 15-of-30 from three in the odd-numbered quarters -- they were just as bad, if not worse, in the second and fourth quarters. While their defense was never where they’d like it to be Saturday night, they’ve proven time and time again this season that when their offense is operating at peak efficiency, most shortcoming on the other end can be overcome.

But there was nothing efficient about Portland managing to score just 12 points in the second quarter, turning what had been a 12-point lead at the end of the first quarter into a six-point deficit by the halftime intermission.

Damian Lillard, after scoring just six points in the first half, summoned “Dame Time” in the third quarter, nearly outscoring the Wizards by his lonesome with 23 points on 7-of-8 shooting from the field, 5-of-5 shooting from three and 4-of-4 shooting from the line. The Blazers still didn’t manage too many stops, but with Lillard proving mostly unstoppable, they outscored the Wizards by 11 to take a 92-89 lead into the fourth.

That lead wouldn’t last long into the fourth, with the Blazers once again having little success slowing down the likes of Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook. Meanwhile their own offense, while not as anemic as it was in the second quarter, sputtered through most of the quarter.

“Sometimes you have nights were the ball is just not going in,” said Lillard. “You get a quality look -- I thought we got a lot of quality looks tonight -- and the ball just wasn’t going in. That means, on the defensive end, you’ve got to be, even sharper. And I think we were in moments, we were in stretches -- first quarter, third quarter I thought we were much better defensively that the second and the fourth -- but we just got to be better when our offensive is struggling.”

A Gary Trent Jr. stepback jumper cut the Wizards lead to two with 4:23 to play, but the Wizards would respond by going on an 11-3 run that push the advantage back to 10 with just over a minute to play. And between Portland’s inability to score at the rim -- Portland shot 38 percent on two-point attempts Saturday night -- nor get stops, there would be no remarkable comeback to keep alive what was the longest active win streak in the NBA.

“I think the lesson from tonight is it’s not easy to be a consistent team in this league,” said Lillard. “It’s not easy to win games night in and night out regardless of the record of the team or how the other team is playing. Anybody can be beat on any given night in any given arena. We’ve been playing really well, I thought we played a pretty good game tonight, we just didn’t shoot the ball well. It just shows how hard it is to be able to sustain a certain level of play because we had a good first, tough second, good third, tough fourth. That’s a huge sign of inconsistency over the course of a game.”

Lillard finished with 35 points, 12 assists, six rebounds and a steal in 39 minutes. Trent Jr. contributed 16 points while Enes Kanter had a double-double of 19 points and 13 rebounds.

Robert Covington also finished the game with a double-double of 11 points and 11 assists, though he also logged four blocks and two steals in 35 minutes. Derrick Jones Jr. came a rebound short of the team’s fourth double-double with 11 points, nine rebounds, two blocks, two assists and a steal in 30 minutes.

Westbrook logged a triple-double with 27 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds and Beal lead all scorers with 37 points in 35 minutes.

Now the Trail Blazers head out for a difficult three-game road trip that starts in Phoenix versus the Suns Monday night. Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.

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