PORTLAND, Ore. — Josh Hart scored a career-high 44 points, helping the Portland Trail Blazers end a six-game skid with a 127-118 victory over the Washington Wizards on Saturday night.
Hart also grabbed eight rebounds and had six assists in Portland’s first win since the All-Star break.
Hart wasn’t the only Trail Blazers player to have a career night as teammates Trendon Watford (27 points) and Drew Eubanks (20) each set personal bests.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 26 points and Kyle Kuzma added 22 for the Wizards, who retired their leading scorers with 2:49 left and the game out of reach.
With a dunk midway through the third quarter, Hart surpassed his career-high 30 points. Things got more impressive from there, highlighted by a four-point game with 6:49 left.
After that, Portland fans began to “wave” and showered Hart with low chants of “MVP!” It was replaced by a curtain call with 1:27 to go.
For Washington, a hot 3-point shot (14 for 34, 41%) wasn’t enough to avoid a third straight loss. The loss knocked the Wizards out of the 10th and final play-in spot in the Eastern Conference.
While Portland didn’t make a 3 until Hart’s jumper with 5:49 left in the first quarter, the 3-point shooting difference (11 for 30, 37%) didn’t matter.
The only first-round pick in Portland’s starting lineup on Saturday night, Hart scored his first 11 points in 1:39.
Wizards: Washington has had a rocky start to its current road trip, losing games in Los Angeles to the Clippers and Lakers. However, freshman coach Wes Unseld Jr. found some positives on the trip. “I think we had a good streak in the Clippers game. It was like seven or eight possessions when we had saves and we were able to get out and push and that just leads to an easy offense. That’s something thing we need to reinforce, you get the reward when you defend.
Trail Blazers: Although listed with an Achilles injury, Eric Bledsoe has faced a variety of issues to the point that he’s uncertain if he’ll return this season, according to coach Chauncey Billups. “He had a few situations when he got here that we had to consolidate so he didn’t take any risks there. He’s such a tough cookie that he hasn’t missed a game with the Clippers with all the injuries he sustained Anfernee Simons will miss the next 1-2 weeks with patellar tendinopathy, but Billups said the results of an MRI of Simons’ knee were “a relief”.
Wizards: At the Golden State Warriors on Monday night.
Trail Blazers: At the Atlanta Hawks on Monday night.