On a five-game losing skid and riddled with injuries, the Portland Trail Blazers head into the second contest of a five-game road swing Friday at Capital One Arena to face the Washington Wizards.
Portland already lost key role players Zach Collins and Rodney Hood to a shoulder and Achilles injury earlier in the season.
But the Trail Blazers embarked on their Eastern Conference road trip Wednesday at New York without reserve Skal Labissiere, who sustained a knee injury, and Mario Hezonja, who dressed but did not play due to a back injury.
Portland’s bench may have been depleted in New York, but an uncharacteristically low scoring output from the Blazers starting backcourt of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum contributed to the fifth consecutive loss, 117-93.
Lillard scored 11 points on 5-of-20 shooting, nearly 16 points below his season average. McCollum posted 17 points on 6-of-16 shooting, almost five points under his average.
Monday marked the second in the current losing streak, and fifth time since the beginning of December, that Portland failed to score at least 100 points. Meanwhile, in giving up 117 points to the Knicks, the Trail Blazers have allowed an average of 122 points per game over their last four.
“You got to tip your hat off to those guys tonight,” Portland forward Carmelo Anthony told NBC Sports Northwest. “The way they shot the ball, the way they were locked in, they deserved to win.”
Anthony scored 26 points in his return to Madison Square Garden, where he spent six-and-a-half seasons as a member of the Knicks. However, New York’s 48 percent shooting from the floor, including 14-of-36 from 3-point range, extended Portland’s losing streak.
“Losses are something we’ll figure out and get to the bottom of,” Anthony said to NBC Sports Northwest.
A season removed from reaching the Western Conference Finals, Portland will need to figure out the root of its struggles soon — beginning Friday in Washington.
The Wizards come in 13 games below .500 after dropping a 122-101 decision Wednesday to Orlando.
No stranger to missing players itself, Washington lost All-Star guard John Wall to an Achilles injury last season that is likely to sideline him for this entire season; center Thomas Bryant to a stress fracture in his foot; and promising rookie forward Rui Hachimura to a groin injury.
Wednesday’s game marked the return of two-time All-Star guard Bradley Beal, who missed two games due to leg soreness. The brief absence ended a streak of 194 consecutive appearances for Beal.
“Me coming into the league my first couple of years, everybody was always saying I couldn’t stay on the floor and I was injury-prone,” Beal said to NBC Sports Washington. “It was something I wanted to get off my resume. I didn’t want that title, I didn’t want that name. So, I just made sure I put in work and took care of my body. I was, fortunately, able to play in 194 straight.
“It was unfortunate it came to an end, but there is nothing more important than taking care of your body,” he added.
Beal is listed as questionable for Friday’s game.
Beal scored 27 points on Wednesday, right around his 27.8 per game season-long average. While his scoring punch gives the Wizards a boost, the bigger concern for Washington is on the defensive end.
Washington’s 121 opponent point-per-game yield is the highest in the NBA.
–Field Level Media