The Washington Wizards didn’t want to blame their latest setback on playing a third game in four days, but fatigue certainly appeared to play a major role in their collapse late in that final contest. With a couple of days off to lick their wounds from a 1-2 road trip, the Wizards attempt to shake off a disheartening overtime defeat in their last time out when they host the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday.
Washington bounced back from Sunday’s loss in Toronto with an 11-point victory in Milwaukee on Monday and was on its way to making it two in a row leading by nine with 3 1/2 minutes remaining Wednesday against Charlotte, but the Hornets closed strong and won it in overtime. “We were probably a little weary. … Fatigue was probably a little bit of a factor, but at the same time we’ve got to go out and do whatever it takes to win,” Wizards guard Bradley Beal told the Washington Post. The Trail Blazers improved to 2-1 on their five-game road swing following Friday’s 127-125 victory over Brooklyn to improve to 4-4 away from home, rallying from a six-point deficit in the last 2 1/2 minutes to pull it out. “We made some good defensive stops in the last minute-and-a-half and were able to convert in the other direction,” Portland coach Terry Stotts told reporters.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, NBCSN Northwest (Portland), NBCSN Washington
ABOUT THE TRAIL BLAZERS (11-8): Jusuf Nurkic stole the show Friday with season highs in points (29) and rebounds (15), tied his season high in blocks (four) and had his second-best shooting performance of the season (12-of-19). “That’s who I am. I need to be like this every night. This consistency we’re talking about whole year, last year, too ... this team needs me and I need to be better,” Nurkic told The Oregonian shortly after converting a three-point play with 30 seconds left to give Portland the lead for good. Stotts started Pat Connaughton over Maurice Harkless for the first time this season, but the Notre Dame product only played 15 minutes and picked up three fouls, overshadowing the fact he converted both of his field-goal attempts.
ABOUT THE WIZARDS (10-8): The short break between games comes at a good time for point guard John Wall, who finished with a season-high 31 points in Wednesday’s defeat but continues to deal with swelling and soreness in his left knee, which caused him to miss Sunday’s setback versus the Raptors. In his 341st career game, backcourt mate Beal became the youngest player in NBA history (24 years, 145 days old) to hit 700 career 3-pointers, doing so almost two months earlier than previous record-holder Kevin Durant. “That’s pretty cool. He’s a great shooter. I think he should’ve got there probably 25 games ago because he doesn’t shoot enough 3s. I keep telling him you should be averaging nine to 10 a game,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks told The Post.
1. The Wizards are allowing opponents to shoot 33.2 percent beyond the arc - the fifth-lowest figure in the league.
2. Portland has yielded more than 100 points in consecutive games after doing so only once over the previous eight contests.
3. Washington C Marcin Gortat started his 100th straight game Wednesday - good for the fourth-longest active streak in the league.
PREDICTION: Wizards 109, Trail Blazers 101