Too much Bradley Beal for Blazers
In the 47 seasons of NBA basketball in Portland, most of the greatest scorers in history have nestled the twine against the Trail Blazers at Memorial Coliseum and Moda Center.
On Tuesday night at Moda, Bradley Beal did it better than anybody. Ever.
With backcourt mate John Wall missing, Beal bombed in a career-high 51 points to lift Washington past Portland, 106-92.
The 6-5 sixth-year shooting guard from Florida destroyed whoever was attempting to defend him — and multitudes tried — while running up the greatest single-game output ever by a Blazers opponent in Portland. Beal bettered the previous record of 49 points shared by Atlanta's Lou Hudson in 1970 and Milwaukee's Lew Alcindor in 1972.
"It's an honor," said Beal, who finished 21 for 37 from the field, including 5 for 12 from 3-point range, in his 43 minutes. "I have a long way to go before I'm even considered in that category. To hold that record in this building — that speaks volumes, with all the guys who have come through here and done miraculous things. I'm proud of it, but I'm more proud of the win we got tonight."
Did Beal dig deeper to provide offense in the absence of Wall?
"Yes and no," he said. "I trust my teammates to make plays. It's always next man up, no matter who is on the floor. Tim (Frazier) and Tomas (Satoransky) do a great job of running the team. I did put a little bit more pressure on myself to carry a heavier load, but I have excellent guys around me who can make plays."
The victory was especially meaningful to the Wizards (13-11), in light of a 116-69 whipping at Utah on Monday night. It was the second-most one-sided loss in franchise history.
Beal, who came to Portland averaging 22.1 points, scored only 11 points on 4-for-15 shooting against the Jazz. He had averaged 12.5 points in his previous four games.
"It was a great bounce-back game for all of our guys, but in particular, for Brad," coach Scotty Brooks said. "He was feeling good, and I was keeping him in there."
Against Portland, Beal scored 32 of his points in the second half. Beal had 12 points in the first quarter, seven in the second, 19 in the third and 13 in the fourth.
"I thought I was going to have a good game," Beal said. "That was my mentality coming into it. I was more locked in, more focused. In the previous games, I was thinking way too much out there instead of playing my game.
"Tonight, I put everything on the table, regardless of whether I made or missed shots. I was going to be a better leader, have good body language and do whatever it took to get a win."
Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Evan Turner and Pat Connaughton all took turns defending Beal, with little success.
"He had a special game," said Lillard, who collected 30 points, eight rebounds and nine assists. "He'd struggled shooting the ball the last couple of games. Odds were … a guy that skilled who shoots the ball like he does was going to get it going. I've been in that position before, so I know how he felt. At that point, we have to address that problem and try to make it a little bit harder."
As he'd done the previous game against New Orleans — in which DeMarcus Cousins went for 38 points in a 123-116 victory over the Blazers — coach Terry Stotts chose not to double-team Beal.
"You have to pick your poison," Stotts said. "He had four 3-point shooters in there with him in the second half. He made two contested step-back jump shots. We trapped once late and (Markieef) Morris got a wide-open 3 that he missed.
"You try to play good one-on-one defense, and if he makes contested long-range 2's, you have to live with that. Most of his baskets were not in a situation where we could double."
Beal said in the absence of Wall — who has missed the last six games with a sore left knee — he expected double-team action.
"I've been facing it the last two weeks," Beal said. "I was definitely a little bit surprised, but I took advantage of it."
Said Brooks: "You have to take the shots they give you. (The Blazers) were giving him opportunities to attack the bigs and for pull-ups, and Bradley is one of the best at doing that."
It was the third straight loss — all at home — for the Blazers (13-11), who fell behind late in the first quarter and never recovered. Washington led 51-37 at the half and increased the margin to 61-38 in the third quarter. Portland used a 15-2 run to draw to within 63-53, but the Wizards came back with a 9-0 tear to go up 72-53.
The Blazers rallied once more with an 11-0 spurt to close to within 97-87 with 1:53 to go. The Wizards closed things out responsibly.
Stotts said he couldn't remember ever seeing two things that happened Tuesday night.
"I can't remember the last time I saw someone take 37 shots in a game," he said, "but (Beal) had an outstanding night."
Also: "I can't remember us having 11 turnovers in a quarter."
The Blazers had 11 of their 19 giveaways in the second quarter.
Said forward Ed Davis: "That has to be franchise high. That's like history stuff right there."
What concerns Stotts most about the way the Blazers are playing?
"Depends on when you ask me," he said. "If you ask me at halftime, I was concerned about our offense. If you had asked me in the third quarter against New Orleans, I'd have said our defense. Different things at different times."
Lillard traces Portland's problems back to a road trip before its current homestand, even though the Blazers won four of the five games away from home.
"We didn't play great, but we found ways to win games," he said. "We came back home and haven't played well offensively, or consistent defensively. Every year at some point, adversity is going to hit. I feel this is the start of a little bit of adversity. I'm not overly concerned this early in the year, but we're just not playing well."
What do the Blazers need to do to get back on track?
"We have to play like we're somebody," Lillard said. "We have to have some swagger about us. We have to have that confidence. We have to be able to play the kind of basketball that allows us to do that — myself included.
"When I turn the ball over, it takes way from the team. taking a tough shot here and there is taking away from the quality of our offense. Those things take the life out of a team."
The Blazers entered the day tied with Denver for fourth place in the Western Conference.
"It could be a lot worse," Lillard said.
Even so, it's bad enough.
"It's a tough time for us," Davis said. "After a 4-1 road trip, to come home and lose these games. …but the NBA is about highs and lows. We have to stick with it. but for sure, it's a tough time. Definitely one of our lower moments, to say the least."
NOTES — Portland center Jusuf Nurkic had 15 points and nine rebounds before exiting in the fourth quarter with a sprained ankle. Forward Mo Harkless suffered a quad injury in the first half and played only 12 minutes. Harkless said he expects to be able to go in the Blazers' next game Saturday against Houston. … Stotts shook up his lineup, starting Harkless and Al-Farouq Aminu over Connaughton and Noah Vonleh. Aminu scored 17 points, sinking 5 of 8 shots from 3-point range. … Beal's previous career scoring high was 42 points. … Lillard has made 163 free throws, second-most in the NBA behind Houston's James Harden (174) … Brooks, pregame talking about the Wizards' loss at Utah: "We played like garbage. We gotta own it and move on, because there's always a game the next night."