Trent, Jr., Covington produce blazers win wizards


The Portland Trail Blazers didn’t play the perfect game Tuesday night against the Washington Wizards. At times they looked slow, tired and just plain thin against one of the NBA’s offensive powers. But the Blazers played a team game for all but isolated moments, and that made up for all the woes. On the second night in a row, Portland put six double-figured players, four of them scoring 19 or more points, and routed the Wizards 132-121.

Game flow

First shift

The Wizards are not a premium NBA franchise. Playing bad teams makes everything better. Even so, the Wizards can SCORE and the Blazers prevented them from doing so in the first quarter. Portland’s defense was both active and efficient. The attack was centered on the wings. Gary Trent, Jr. and Robert Covington made the game difficult for Washington. They were joined on the offensive end by Rodney Hood. This trio scored 24 points in the first 6 hours, helping Portland to an 18-0 run. During that same span, the Wizards have only scored 7. Most impressive of all, Damian Lillard contributed zero points to the effort. That equates to a 19-point lead, stellar shooting and excellent defense without the franchise superstar lifting a finger.

As usual, Portland’s second unit couldn’t hold the defense strong, but the Blazers were still leading 40-23 after one with Lillard contributing just 2. I’d bet it’s either the first or almost the last. first time it ever happened, other than games he got injured.

Second quarter

Of course, the Blazers can’t have great things without losing them. This includes leads of all sizes. The Wizards reduced the margin to 12 before you could say “Boo!” in the second half. But Trent, Jr. calmly lifted him up again, draining a pair of threes. No matter how many duds his teammates brought up, Enes Kanter either sucked them up or handed them into friendly hands. Even when the defense slipped, the offense was defeated, thanks in large part to Kanter’s efforts.

This story changed around 7 p.m. Bradley Beal started hitting three, spreading and then crippling Portland’s defense. It also seemed to undermine the vigor of the offense. The Blazers turned into an isolation ball, starting with the slightly acceptable version of Carmelo Anthony, then progressing through the hard-to-watch grime. The lead weakened to 7 points, then 6. Lillard became aggressive as the half dwindled, but he still couldn’t get the score to advance, settling for wheelbarrows full of free throws instead. . This has proven to be sufficient, however. Portland led 75-63 at the half. A twelve-point lead gave the Blazers a cushion for the inevitable fatigue on the second night of a back-to-back.

Third quarter

The third period started off the standard Blazers way: Lillard three, Trent, Jr. three, Lillard three. Being good guests, Portland also allowed the home team to strike from a distance. The burst of points was impressive, but didn’t change the margin much. Washington went on a 9-0 mid-period run, then Portland went 12-0. Lillard by scoring a dozen over the period was enough to push the Blazers over the top when all was said and done. Portland led 106-90 after three.

Fourth trimester

Rodney Hood started the fourth with a few threes, signaling the Wizards that the comeback would be difficult. With Lillard still rolling and Trent, Jr. nearby, the Blazers had all the firepower they needed to make it happen. But the defense and the feet at half mast allowed the Wizards to close their heads late. Portland stood up and watched Washington run. The Wizards cut the lead to 4 with four minutes left, but Trent, Jr. splashed three more and that was enough. A big snap from Lillard at 2:10 left put the lid on the game. We even had one of our first “Lillard Time” wristwatch celebrations as the Blazers headed for victory.


Put some respect on the name Gary Trent, Jr. He set the tone in the game with his defense, then added 7-9 distance shooting, 8-16 overall, for 26 points. His game is now professional: two-way, confident and punchy.

Enes Kanter had 5 offensive rebounds, but it was like 50. He was disruptive on the glass, giving the Blazers extra possessions and eating the clock to help maintain the lead. He was hitting around Wizards like bowling pins. 14 points, 15 rebounds.

Rodney Hood looked like Rodney Good of old tonight. His three-point shot was pure (3-6 from the arc) and he was able to move around the ground.

Robert Covington had a “What the What ???” moment of the first period, hitting his first three triples. He’s aligned with his teammates offering mostly solid defense. 19 points on 5-8 shots from distance gave Portland the edge they needed to make the game comfortable.

Carmelo Anthony scored 21 points on 8-16 shots, which is a fantastic stat line. With their bench seriously exhausted, the Blazers were happy to go see him. The Wizards started to enjoy him as the play progressed, too, causing him to double down on the take, knowing he was either going to shoot in isolation or fade. The plan may not be viable; Portland needs to get the players back to good health quickly. However, you cannot chat with 21 points in 26 minutes. Hat tip to ‘Melo.

The Blazers forced 7 turnovers in the first period, a staggering pace. Behind Trent, Jr. and Covington, they demonstrated what their defense could be. The markup energy kept them from sustaining the attack, but for a while they watched good.

Equally important, Washington shot 17 free throws. Overly aggressive defense of overly tired players is usually a set-up for Whistlemania. Portland has avoided this trap.

Oh … Damian Lillard also had 32 points and 8 assists.

The takeaways in this game were pretty basic:

  1. Portland can play a good defense on occasion. When they do, they look great.
  2. The three-point shot improves everything for the Blazers. They hit 21-46 tonight, 45.7%. It made the game easy.
  3. Damian Lillard is fantastic, but if the Blazers are to win consistently, the rest of the squad has to be there. The difference between just one little little coordinated effort and Iso-Ball Hell (coupled with strainer-like defense) takes place night and day.

The score of the box

Check out this awesome instant recap of Marlow Ferguson, Jr.

The Blazers face Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76’ers Thursday night at 5:00 p.m. in the Pacific.

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