Kuzma returns from injury and Wizards top Blazers 126-101
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Kyle Kuzma returned from an ankle sprain and scored 33 points, making six 3-pointers, to lead the Washington Wizards to a 126-101 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday night.
Kristaps Porzingis added 28 points and 12 rebounds for the Wizards, who have won three of their last four games.
“We’re making strides. I think we did a good job,” Kuzma said. “I think the biggest way — we talk about efficiency — is just the way we were playing, playing the right way, playing extra pass basketball, moving the ball around. That’s going to cause a lot of efficient nights because you’re getting quality shots.”
Afterward, Kuzma posted to Twitter: “Feels good to be back hoopin.”
Damian Lillard had 39 points, 10 rebounds and six assists for the Blazers. Anfernee Simons added 17 points but sprained his right ankle late in the third quarter and had to be helped to the locker room. Blazers coach Chauncey Billups said X-rays were negative.
“Once I saw him stay down, I was definitely concerned. That makes things tougher for us,” Lillard said.
The Blazers were already playing without Jerami Grant because of the concussion protocol and big man Jusuf Nurkic, out with a left calf strain.
The final margin was the Wizards’ biggest lead of the second half. Cam Reddish made a 3-pointer that had the Blazers within 105-90 with 8:11 left. Shaedon Sharpe got Portland closer at 107-97 with 5:14 to go.
A series of calls against the Blazers, including a flagrant foul and a technical on Lillard, stalled Portland’s momentum. It was the first flagrant foul of Lillard’s career.
Both teams were playing the second of back-to-backs.
The Blazers hit 23 3-pointers in a 127-115 rout of the Los Angeles Lakers, who were without NBA career scoring leader LeBron James.
The Wizards fell 135-126 at the Golden State Warriors.
The newest Blazers, Reddish and Matisse Thybulle, started together for the second straight game after both were acquired at last week’s trade deadline.
Kuzma, who missed four games with a left ankle sprain, hit back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Wizards a 31-24 lead at the end of the first quarter, but Lillard hit a 3-pointer from nearly half court at the buzzer.
Lillard crashed into some sideline seats chasing a ball midway through the second quarter and came up limping, but he walked off any discomfort.
Kuzma had 19 points and the Wizards led 59-52 at the break. They shot 60.5% from the floor in the opening half.
Bradley Beal’s 3-pointer gave the Wizards a 72-60 lead in the third quarter. They led 97-80 going into the final quarter. Kuzma hit a three-quarter court 3 at the buzzer.
“I took some extra time (off from the injury) and I thought I thought that was really, really worth it for me to come out and play the type of game I did today,” said Kuzma, who missed his first three shots but then made his next six. “Just feeling healthy. Felt good.”
Wizards: The Wizards dropped the other meeting with the Blazers this season, 124-116, at Capital One Arena. The Wizards have lost six straight at home in the series against Portland. … “I thought we had another good offensive night,” coach Wes Unseld Jr. said. ” It helps when you throw 17 3’s in.”
Trail Blazers: The Blazers were without starter Jermai Grant for the second straight game because he is in the concussion protocol. … The NBA announced that Lillard and Simons will take part in the 3-point contest on Saturday for All-Star weekend. Joing them will be Tyrese Haliburton (Indiana), Tyler Herro (Miami), Buddy Hield (Indiana), Kevin Huerter (Sacramento), Lauri Markkanen (Utah) and Jayson Tatum (Boston).
Wizards: Visit the Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday night.
Trail Blazers: Visit the Sacramento Kings on Feb. 23.
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