Lillard scores 22 in return, Blazers top Wizards

PORTLAND, OREGON (AP) — Damian Lillard had 22 points in his return from a groin injury and Carmelo Anthony scored 25 as the Portland Trail Blazers beat the Washington Wizards 125-104 yesterday.

“I felt pretty good,” Lillard said. “I moved pretty well, I was able to do a lot of things. I didn’t want to overdo it when I saw the kind of game we were playing — the balance was good. We had a comfortable lead, I picked my moments to explode, take off and cut hard. Get in the stance and fight over screens, and I didn’t feel restricted.”

Hassan Whiteside recorded his 48th double-double of the season for Portland, finishing with 24 points, 16 rebounds and four blocks. CJ McCollum, like Lillard, had 22 points and five assists.

It was Lillard’s first game in three weeks after missing six with a groin strain.

“It was weird,” Lillard said about missing his first Blazers road trip in eight seasons. “I was playing NBA 2K. That was my first time playing it, too. Since the game came out. I can’t tell you how long it was since I played the game.”

Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard shoots next to Washington Wizards forward Moritz Wagner. PHOTO: AP

Washington guard Bradley Beal, who began the day as the NBA’s second-leading scorer behind Houston star James Harden, had 29 points. But the Blazers made Beal work for it as he went 10 for 29 (35 per cent) from the field.

He was guarded by Trevor Ariza for much of the night.

“He’s a pest. That’s what he does,” Beal said.

Anthony started strong. The 17-year veteran scored 14 points in the first, his most in any quarter this season, to help the Blazers to a 37-30 lead.

“I don’t normally play him for the entire first quarter, but he had bounce. It was good to see,” Portland coach Terry Stotts said.

Lillard missed his first couple of shots but connected on a three-pointer for his first basket with 5:49 left in the first period. The star guard then hit another three with 4:46 remaining in the second.

While Beal put on a show for the Wizards, second-leading scorer Davis Bertans struggled to get his shot to fall. A 42 per cent three-point shooter coming in, Bertans made only one of his first seven 3s. He finished with 20 points.

Lillard connected on his fourth three in the third quarter as the Blazers extended their lead to 24. Portland held a 100-79 lead after three.

A deep three-pointer by Bertans cut it to 104-93 with 7:37 left, prompting a Blazers timeout. The Wizards only managed to score three points in the ensuing 3:36, as Portland went on a 13-3 run to help put the game away.

With 4:01 left, the Wizards pulled Beal and Bertans.