Wednesday, March 22, 2023
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NBA Preview: Washington Wizards (26-29) at Portland Trail Blazers (28-29)

Damian Lillard is on a shooting spree as he attempts to keep the Portland Trail Blazers in the playoff mix.

The Portland star will look to reach at least 30 points for the 16th time in the past 20 games when the Trail Blazers host the Washington Wizards on Tuesday night.

Lillard scored 40 points in Monday’s solid 127-115 home win over the Los Angeles Lakers. It marked the 11th time he has tallied 40 or more this season.

He knocked down eight 3-pointers on a night in which Portland made 23 from long range, one shy of the franchise mark set against the Charlotte Hornets on March 1, 2021.

Lillard was especially hot in the second quarter with 24 points. He had 30 at halftime.

Portland also received a solid lift from Matisse Thybulle, who had 14 points, six rebounds and three blocked shots in his team debut. He also made a season-best four 3-pointers.

The Trail Blazers are expected to be without forward Jerami Grant (concussion) for the second straight game.

Washington opened a three-game road trip by losing 135-126 to the Golden State Warriors on Monday night.

The Wizards have dropped four of six games following a season-long six-game winning streak.

Kristaps Porzingis scored 34 points on 12-of-16 shooting against Golden State, while Bradley Beal added 33 points on 13-of-23 marksmanship despite losing a tooth during the game due to a collision.

Beal also went over 15,000 career points, finishing the game with 15,007. Hall of Famer Elvin Hayes (15,551) is the only other player in franchise history to top 15,000 points.

Beal has scored more than 30 points in three of his past four games, beginning with a 34-point output in a 124-116 home loss against Portland on Feb. 3.

Beal is averaging 22.8 points but has played in just 34 games due to injuries and illnesses.

Porzingis had 32 points in the recent contest against Portland and has scored over 30 in four of the past six games. He is shooting 59.6 percent from the field during the stretch.

The Wizards’ other three starters on Monday — Daniel Gafford, Monte Morris and Corey Kispert — combined for just 21 points.

Washington’s Kyle Kuzma (left ankle), normally a starter, has missed the past four games. Coach Wes Unseld Jr. said he was hopeful he will be available Tuesday.

The Trail Blazers have won seven of the past eight meetings between the teams. Anfernee Simons scored 33 points and Lillard added 29 in Portland’s 124-116 win on Feb. 3.

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