Lillard, McCollum pace Trail Blazers past Wizards
WASHINGTON — Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum wasn’t about to let another hero opportunity slip away. That the Washington Wizards are struggling mightily late in games certainly helped.
Damian Lillard scored 29 points and McCollum had seven of his 26 over the final 90 seconds as the Portland Trail Blazers rallied past the Washington Wizards for a 108-105 victory Saturday.
Playing without the injured John Wall, Washington seemingly pulled away with a 16-5 run in the fourth quarter and led 94-77 with 8:14 remaining. However, Portland (12-8) hit 11 of 17 shot attempts in the fourth quarter, outscoring Washington 35-22.
McCollum’s personal 7-0 run put Portland up 106-105 with 21 seconds remaining.
The wing guard missed key free throws late in Portland’s 104-103 loss against the Los Angeles Clippers on Oct. 26. There was also an errant potential game-winning jumper in the closing seconds of Portland’s 98-97 defeat against the Memphis Grizzlies on Nov. 8.
Against Washington, McCollum made 6-of-9 shot attempts for 13 points in the final quarter including a 3-pointer, driving layup and 20-foot fadeaway inside the final two minutes.
“I have all the confidence in the world, and I can live with missing shots, and I can live with people saying that I’m not clutch,” McCollum said. “Because I know who I am. So it doesn’t faze me.”
After Pat Connaughton hit two free throws with 2.6 seconds, Wizards guard Bradley Beal nearly pumped fake a defender into a foul, but missed a contested 3-point try at the buzzer. Beal scored 26 points for the Wizards (10-9), but missed all four of his shot attempts in the closing stretch.
Portland arrived in Washington 1-2 on its road trip following a 127-125 road win over the Brooklyn Nets on Friday afternoon, which also included a late flourish.
The collapse was Washington’s second in as many games. They fell 129-124 in overtime at Charlotte on Wednesday after leading by nine points with 3:32 left.
“We have to learn from it,” Beal said. “We’re getting tired of mad faces in the locker room after the games.
Beal played the distributor role and matched a season-high with seven assists, but missed eight of 11 field goal attempts in the fourth quarter. Washington finished 9 of 28 in the period.
“I definitely put it on my shoulders. I have to close the game out a lot better, lead these guys better,” Beal said. “Just learn from it. I love that (final) shot. I’m going to take it again for sure.”
The Wizards announced Saturday that Wall would miss approximately two weeks with inflammation in his left knee. Wall had an MRI exam Friday and will received platelet-rich plasma and viscosupplementation injections in an attempt to reduce the inflammation and discomfort with which the four-time All-Star has dealt since making knee-to-knee contact against Dallas on Nov. 7.
“We felt like this was the best thing,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks said pregame of Wall’s status. “We figure this is the early part of the season, and we’re in no rush. Give him the best chance to come back.”
Otto Porter Jr. had 18 of his 24 points in the second half for the Wizards. Kelly Oubre Jr. scored 13. Tim Frazier replaced Wall in the starting lineup and scored a season-high 11 points.
Jusuf Nurkic had 17 points and Connaughton 12 for the Trail Blazers, who shot 51.3 percent from the field.
“We just couldn’t get stops,” Brooks said. “McCollum was feeling comfortable. Their main guns were attacking.”
Washington led 52-41 at halftime as Portland shot 6 of 22 from the field in the second quarter and extended the lead to 15 points early in the third. After the Blazers pulled within 70-66, Porter scored seven points over the final 3:27 of the period as the Wizards led 83-73 entering the fourth. They just didn’t lead after the final buzzer.
“I think what it does is it shows us what can happen when we do things we’re supposed to do,” Lillard said of the win. “We did it in spurts and we got back in the game each time.”
NOTES: Blazers F Al-Farouq Aminu (right ankle) missed his 12th consecutive game. ... Wizards G Tim Frazier played 40 games for the Blazers from 2015-16. ... The Blazers and Wizards reconvene Dec. 5 in Portland. ... Wizards C Marcin Gortat started his 101st consecutive game, the third-longest active streak in the NBA behind Timberwolves C Karl-Anthony Towns (183) and F Andrew Wiggins (176). ... Portland wraps its five-game road trip Monday at the New York Knicks. ... Washington plays seven of its next eight games on the road starting with Tuesday’s matchup at the Minnesota Timberwolves.