Damian Lillard and Portland Trail Blazers will look to continue their recent strong play on Friday night when they visit Washington Wizards.
Lillard collected 42 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds to pace Portland to a 122-112 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday. He has scored at least 40 points in back-to-back contests and in a total of nine games this season.
“We hopped on his back and he led us like he always does,” Trail Blazers coach Chauncey Billups said of Lillard, who is averaging a robust 38.0 points over his past 10 games.
“He controlled really the tempo and the pace of the game with how he played. He mixed it up a lot. Attacking to facilitate and attacking to score. I thought he did a good job of keeping their defence off balance. This is just an incredible game for him.”
Wednesday’s win wasn’t just a one-man show, however.
Anfernee Simons scored 26 points and Drew Eubanks recorded 11 points and 11 rebounds while playing in place of Jusuf Nurkic, who left the game early in the first quarter due to left calf soreness. Portland also saw Jerami Grant depart the game due to concussion-like symptoms.
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“The team showed a lot of resiliency tonight,” Lillard said. “We had Nurk and JG go down and (Nassir Little), Drew, (Trendon Watford) — he was the player of the game in my eyes — (Gary Payton II), everybody came in and just had that mentality. Nobody folded, nobody lacked confidence, nobody was a deer in the headlights out there. Everybody came in, put their foot in, put they game down and we handled our business. That’s the sign of a resilient team and a team that’s together.”
The Trail Blazers have won four of their past five games to move within one victory of .500 on the season. The Wizards, in turn, have won six straight games for the first time since 2015.
Washington’s bid to extend that winning streak on Wednesday was denied not by a loss but by travel issues involving its opponent. The NBA postponed Wednesday’s game after the Detroit Pistons were unable to fly home following their contest against the Mavericks due to an ice storm in Dallas.
Deni Avdija scored a career-high 25 points to go along with nine rebounds in the Wizards’ 127-106 victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Monday. He made 10 of 12 shots from the floor, including both attempts from 3-point range.
“He’s been heading towards this,” Kristaps Porzingis said of Avdija, who has totalled at least 10 points and nine rebounds in four consecutive games.
“Things are working for him. He’s figuring out his game, like where he’s good at, and I love to see it for him. I’m so excited. ... His energy is contagious for us, and whenever he’s hooping, we’re a different team.”
Bradley Beal scored 21 points and Porzingis chipped in 17 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and five blocks in his return from a three-game absence due to a left ankle sprain.