PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) Bradley Beal had a career night, and in the process, he gave the Washington Wizards a morale-boosting rebound victory.
”I’ve been thinking way too much,” Beal said after scoring a career-high 51 points in a 106-92 victory Tuesday night over the Portland Trail Blazers. ”Tonight I was just playing freely and having fun.”
The Wizards bounced back from a discouraging 116-69 loss Monday night to the Utah Jazz. It was the second-largest losing margin in franchise history.
Beal made 21 field goals against the Blazers, also a career high, and the Wizards led by as many as 23 points. He hit five 3-pointers. It was the most points ever scored in Portland by an opposing player.
Beal certainly set the tone, coach Scott Brooks said.
”You never go into a game thinking one of your best players or best guards in the league is going to get 50, but he has the ability to get high numbers when he’s aggressive,” Brooks said. ”We gave him space to work.”
Beal said he barely slept after the loss to the Jazz.
”I came into the game with the mindset of being aggressive, especially coming off the game last night and the way I played the last four or five games,” he said.
Damian Lillard finished with 30 points, eight rebounds and nine assists for the Blazers, who have lost three straight at home after returning from a 4-1 trip.
Portland was hurt midway through the final quarter when center Jusuf Nurkic limped off the court and to the locker room after appearing to injure his right ankle. He had 15 points and nine rebounds before leaving. Portland said X-rays on the ankle were negative.
Playing without All-Star John Wall for the sixth straight game, the Wizards came out like they did not want a repeat of the night before. They went on an 11-0 run to go up 31-22 in the first half, capped by Kelly Oubre Jr.’s pull-up jumper, and went on to lead 51-37 at the break.
Beal scored 19 first-half points, and the Wizards collectively had 12 steals by the break.
”The greatest thing about the NBA is you can bounce back the next night and that’s what happened tonight,” Marcin Gortat said.
Portland, meanwhile, had 13 turnovers at the half and finished with 18 overall.
Beal’s 20-foot jumper gave the Wizards a 61-38 lead in the third quarter, but the Blazers clawed back to 63-52 on Lillard’s 3-pointer and a free throw.
Lillard appeared to tweak his left hip late in the quarter, and at times he grimaced – but he had 15 points in the period to help keep the Blazers in it.
CJ McCollum’s layup got Portland within 81-72, but Beal answered with a 3-pointer that put him over his previous career high. Beal had 42 points against Phoenix on Nov. 21 last year.
Al-Farouq Aminu made a 3-pointer that pulled Portland within 99-90 with 1:28 left, but that was as close as Portland would come. Beal dunked with 24 seconds left to punctuate his performance.
”I’m not somebody that’s going to get overly concerned, especially this early in the year,” Lillard said. ”We’re just not playing well. I think it goes back to the road trip. We didn’t play great but we found ways to win games. We came home and we just haven’t played well offensively or consistent defensively.”
Portland coach Terry Stotts tinkered a bit with his lineup, starting Aminu and Maurice Harkless, while sending Pat Connaughton and Noah Vonleh to the bench.
The Blazers were coming off a 123-116 loss to New Orleans on Saturday.
Wizards: It was the second of two meetings this season between the teams. Portland won the first 108-105. … Washington swept the series last season, scoring more than 120 points in each. The game was the second of a five-game trip for the Wizards.
Trail Blazers: Evan Turner started the second half for Harkless, who stayed behind in the Blazers’ locker room. The team later said he had a left quad contusion. Harkless said he expected to be ready for Portland’s next game on Saturday.
MOST OPPONENT POINTS IN PORTLAND: Beal broke the record of 49, held by Atlanta’s Lou Hudson (11/18/70), Milwaukee’s Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (10/18/72). Beal said the last time he’s scored 50 he was in high school.
The Wizards visit the Suns on Thursday.
The Trail Blazers host the Houston Rockets on Saturday.
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