NBA

Wizards, Trail Blazers riding four-game winning streaks

PORTLAND, Ore. -- The Washington Wizards are on a roll, and hope to continue it Saturday night when they hit Moda Center for a date with the Portland Trail Blazers.

Washington has won four games in a row, including the first three on its current five-game road trip, to improve to 40-24 and climb into second place in the Eastern Conference standings.

The Wizards have become the first team in NBA history to start a season 2-8 and get to 15 or more games over .500. That means they've gone 38-16 since the inauspicious beginning. They are also the second-winningest Washington team through 64 games, behind only the 1979 Eastern Conference champion Bullets, who were 44-20.

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Bradley Beal scored 38 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead the Wizards to a 130-122 overtime victory at Sacramento on Friday night. And bad news for the Trail Blazers -- Washington has won four straight on the second night of back-to-back opportunities.

Like the Blazers, the Wizards rely on an offensive attack led by a high-powered guard tandem. The starting backcourts of the Wizards (Beal 22.9, John Wall 22.8) and the Blazers (Damian Lillard 25.9, CJ McCollum 23.3) are two of the top four scoring guard tandems in the league.

In the last meeting between the teams, Washington won 120-101 at the Verizon Center on Jan 16, with Beal (25) and Wall (24) combining for 49 points. But Portland has won nine of the last 11 meetings between the teams at Moda Center, including three in a row.

The Wizards are also relying on strong bench play. In a 131-127 win at Phoenix, third-year guard Bojan Bogdanovic scored a team-high 29 points on only nine shots and set a franchise record by going 16 for 16 at the line. Bogdanovic scored 17 points in 30 minutes against the Kings.

"I'm always happy to have another guy on the court who can help us," said Wall, who scored 30 points with 10 assists against the Suns. "Bogey cuts to the basket. He can put the ball on the floor. that gives us another weapon who can create for us. He's just coming in, playing his role, being aggressive. You get to the free-throw line 16 times, that's big."

Said first-year Washington coach Scottie Brooks: "I give our guys credit off the bench. They have come in and played well -- that's an understatement."

Portland (28-35) has won four in a row for the first time this season thanks in no small part to center Jusuf Nurkic, who has captured the heard of the city since arriving in the Feb. 13 trade that sent center Mason Plumlee to Denver.

The 7-foot, 280-pound Nurkic went for career highs in points (28), rebounds (20), assists (eight) and blocked shots (six) in a 114-108 overtime win over Philadelphia Thursday at Moda Center.

"That's the most dominant performance by an interior player against us all year," Sixers coach Brett Brown told reporters afterward.

In eight games with the Blazers, the 22-year-old Serb is averaging 16.5 points and 9.5 rebounds while shooting .539 from the field.

"He scores in so many ways," Lillard said. "He rebounds. He passes the ball really well. He protects the paint. (On defense) We can close out guys on the perimeter and force them to the paint and he's cleaning up down there, blocking everything. The ones he doesn't get to, he changes the shots."