PORTLAND, Ore. — Damian Lillard had 22 points in his return from a groin injury and Carmelo Anthony scored 25 as the Portland Trail Blazers beat the Washington Wizards 125-104 on Wednesday night.
“I felt pretty good,” Lillard said. “I moved pretty well, I was able to do a lot of things. I didn’t want to overdo it when I saw the kind of game we were playing — the balance was good. We had a comfortable lead, I picked my moments to explode, take off and cut hard. Get in the stance and fight over screens, and I didn’t feel restricted.”
Hassan Whiteside recorded his 48th double-double of the season for Portland, finishing with 24 points, 16 rebounds and four blocks. CJ McCollum, like Lillard, had 22 points and five assists.
It was Lillard’s first game in three weeks after missing six with a groin strain.
“It was weird,” Lillard said about missing his first Blazers road trip in eight seasons. “I was playing NBA 2K. That was my first time playing it, too. Since the game came out. I can’t tell you how long it was since I played the game.”
Washington guard Bradley Beal, who began the day as the NBA’s second-leading scorer behind Houston star James Harden, had 29 points. But the Blazers made Beal work for it as he went 10 for 29 (35%) from the field.
He was guarded by Trevor Ariza for much of the night.
“He’s a pest. That’s what he does,” Beal said.
Anthony started strong. The 17-year veteran scored 14 points in the first, his most in any quarter this season, to help the Blazers to a 37-30 lead.
“I don’t normally play him for the entire first quarter, but he had bounce. It was good to see,” Portland coach Terry Stotts said.
Lillard missed his first couple of shots but connected on a 3-pointer for his first basket with 5:49 left in the first period. The star guard then hit another 3 with 4:46 remaining in the second.
While Beal put on a show for the Wizards, second-leading scorer Davis Bertans struggled to get his shot to fall. A 42% 3-point shooter coming in, Bertans made only one of his first seven 3s. He finished with 20 points.
Lillard connected on his fourth 3 in the third quarter as the Blazers extended their lead to 24. Portland held a 100-79 lead after three.
A deep 3-pointer by Bertans cut it to 104-93 with 7:37 left, prompting a Blazers timeout. The Wizards only managed to score three points in the ensuing 3:36, as Portland went on a 13-3 run to help put the game away.
With 4:01 left, the Wizards pulled Beal and Bertans.
Wizards: After providing a spark off the bench Tuesday, Jerome Robinson got a start in this one. “I wanted to give other guys that started a role off the bench and just see how that goes,” coach Scott Brooks said. “He’s got a lot of opportunities the remainder of the season to see if we can get better. I thought his defense was a big spark coming back from a big deficit. We need it. We need all of the defenders we can possibly get.” The Wizards are ranked last in the NBA in defensive rating.
Trail Blazers: Even with Lillard back, Stotts would like to see McCollum’s strong play continue with his All-Star teammate healthy. “The impressive thing was he took a leadership role on the court,” Stotts said of McCollum. “He scored when he had to, he assisted, he did things you would want him to do. I think one of our goals, not only this year but next year, to make that happen more often even when Dame is on the court. It was good to see him do that and hopefully it can happen more often.” In the six games he played without Lillard, McCollum averaged 33.3 points, eight assists and five rebounds.
Wizards: Friday at home vs. Atlanta.
Trail Blazers: Friday at Phoenix.