PORTLAND, Ore. — Something got into the Portland Trail Blazers at halftime, or so it seemed.
Portland came out of the locker room smoking, sinking three 3-pointers in the first two minutes of the third quarter to break open a tight game en route to a 116-103 victory over the Washington Wizards on Thursday night at the Moda Center.
The Blazers, who were only 4 for 15 from 3-point territory in the first half, were 10 for 20 from beyond the arc following intermission after leading only 53-51 at the half.
“They just came out hitting shots,” said Washington guard John Wall, who finished with 24 points and 14 assists. “They’re a team that gets hot from time to time, and they made some contested shots.”
Guard Wesley Matthews matched his season high with 28 points, guard Damian Lillard contributed 23 points, 10 assists and six rebounds and forward Nicolas Batum added 12 points, 14 rebounds and five assists for the Blazers (45-24), who won their second straight before heading out on a five-game road trip that begins Saturday at Charlotte.
Portland shot superbly — .506 from the field, .400 from 3-point range and .800 from the foul line — and dished out 32 assists, its most since getting 32 in a 108-107 loss to Miami on Dec. 28.
“The ball was moving,” said Matthews, who was 8-for-16 from the field, 4-for-9 from 3-point range and 8-for-8 from the foul line. “It was a lot of fun to be out there. That’s how we got on a roll, how we got to be one of the hottest teams, when the ball was flying around like that. We were on tonight.”
Forward Drew Gooden came off the bench for 18 points and nine rebounds and guard Bradley Beal scored 18 points for the Wizards (35-33), who lost for the fourth time in their last six outings.
Washington jumped to a 28-23 lead after one quarter, but the Blazers used an 8-0 run late in the second quarter to take a two-point lead into the break.
“We somehow have to learn,” Washington coach Randy Wittman said. “We’re up 51-45 with 53 seconds to go (before halftime), and they go on an 8-0 run. You cannot treat the game that way.”
Portland outscored Washington 11-2 in the first two minutes of the third quarter to go ahead 64-53. The Blazers made 11 of their first 16 shots and knocked down six treys in the quarter, taking an 86-73 edge into the final period.
“We did a great job of coming out with energy that third quarter,” Lillard said. “We were aggressive on the offensive end, flying around on the defensive end, getting our hands on balls.”
The Blazers had gone through a stretch of five losses in six games before pulling out a 120-115 overtime win over Milwaukee on Tuesday. Portland coach Terry Stotts said Thursday’s performance against Washington was his team’s best in some time.
“I was really pleased with the way we played, especially after the first quarter,” Stotts said. “We were really moving the ball. There was a nice rhythm to it. It was a game we needed before this road trip.”
NOTES: Portland G Damion Lillard was 3-for-8 from 3-point range and upped his season total for 3’s to 186, breaking the franchise record of 185 he set as a rookie last season. …G John Wall scored 13 points in the first quarter, zero in the second quarter, 11 in the third quarter and zero in the fourth quarter. … Wall got his 25th double-double of the season, second-most of the league’s point guards. Batum recorded his 12th double-double while Lillard registered his sixth. … Portland finished its schedule 21-4 against Eastern Conference opponents, the best mark by any West team this season. … Each team was without it starting power forward — Portland F LaMarcus Aldridge (back) and Washington F Nene (knee). Aldridge missed his fourth straight game, Nene his 12th. … Portland 6-foot-8 SF Nicolas Batum has 143 rebounds in March, 23 more than the player with the next-most — Sacramento C DeMarcus Cousins.
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