Lillard, McCollum lead Trail Blazers past Wizards, 122-103
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Washington Wizards were already short-handed, then lost Isaiah Thomas not even 90 seconds into the game when he was ejected for making contact with a referee.
That left them too depleted to keep up with the Portland Trail Blazers and their potent backcourt.
Hassan Whiteside added 23 points, 21 rebounds and five blocks for Portland.
“A lot of winnable games we kind of squandered, so this was one we needed to get,” McColllum said after he and Lillard bounced back from combined 11-of-36 shooting in a loss to the Knicks. “Now we’ve got to move forward.”
Thomas was tied up along the sideline by Portland’s Carmelo Anthony. As he broke away from Anthony he made contact with referee Marat Kogut, who stumbled. Thomas was throw out with 10:32 left in the opening quarter.
“He made physical contact with the referee,” referee Mark Ayotte said in a pool report. “It was definitely just a push during the dead ball contact with the referee.”
Wizards coach Scott Brooks thought the contact was accidental.
“I mean I had a different view of it obviously,” he said. “They were in a scrum and they were fighting for the ball, a jump ball. I had a view that it looked like he lost his balance but (Kogut) had a better view and then they looked at it. They looked at it so you would hope they made the right call.”
Thomas wasn’t in the locker room after the game.
“I didn’t really pay much attention to the contact and I was standing right there,” Lillard said. “I thought he just fell into him. And that was it. They reviewed it and they kind of stood their ground on it. So I guess what they thought happened, happened.”
Thomas received a two-game suspension after walking into the stands to confront two fans following a timeout in Philadelphia on Dec. 21.
Playing without Bradley Beal, Washingon’s top three scorers were reserves.
Beal is day-to-day. He returned Wednesday against Orlando after missing two games with lower leg soreness and collided with the Magic’s Jonathan Isaac early on. Brooks said the collision aggravated Beal’s injury.
McCollum started an 11-1 run in the third quarter with a jumper and then added a 3-pointer to make it 73-64. Whiteside scored four straight points on a tip-in and layup and, after a Washington free throw, Lillard hit two foul shots to put Portland up 79-65.
McRae’s 3-pointer pulled Washington within 103-96 with 5:54 left, but Lillard answered with five quick points to make it 108-96.
“We’re a young team,” McRae said. “We’re trying to figure out ways to win those games in the last five minutes of the game. You’ve got to get stops, you’ve got to be efficient on the offensive end.”
Trail Blazers: Forward Mario Hezonja returned after missing four games because of lower back pain. … Lillard has scored at least 29 points in the teams’ last six matchups. … Whiteside has 26 double-doubles
Wizards: Have 20 20-plus point games from bench, second-most in the NBA behind the Clippers (31). … Wizards bench has 17 games of 50 or more combined points. … Have 32 consecutive games of 100 or more points, fifth-longest streak in team history. … Are 1-15 when they score less than 110 points.
Whiteside recorded his first 20-point, 20-rebound game of the season as the team played its second game of 2020.
“He has a knack around the basket,” coach Terry Stotts said. “As far as 20 rebounds, he goes after them. And he’s got a lot of length. … His scoring a lot of times, he’s the beneficiary of passing but I thought he really went after some offensive rebounds and created some opportunities for himself.”
Trail Blazers: Continue road trip on Sunday when they visit the Miami Heat.
Wizards: Host the Denver Nuggets on Saturday.