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Ayton, Banton help Blazers hand Wizards franchise record-tying 63rd loss of season

Portland wins consecutive games for first time since early March

By IAN NICHOLAS QUILLEN, Associated Press
Published: April 5, 2024, 6:47pm
3 Photos
Washington Wizards guard Jordan Poole, left, drives past Portland Trail Blazers center Deandre Ayton for a basket during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, April 5, 2024, in Washington.
Washington Wizards guard Jordan Poole, left, drives past Portland Trail Blazers center Deandre Ayton for a basket during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, April 5, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/John McDonnell) Photo Gallery

WASHINGTON — Deandre Ayton scored a season-high 34 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, and the Portland Trail Blazers sent the Washington Wizards to a franchise record-tying 63rd loss with a 108-102 victory Friday night.

Dalano Banton added 21 points and Scoot Henderson scored 19 for Portland, which won its second straight. Jabari Walker finished with 11 points and 13 rebounds to help the Trail Blazers to their first consecutive wins since the beginning of March amid a seven-game road trip.

“We’re just working on us,” Ayton said of Portland’s own poor season. “We’re not really thinking about none of that stuff right now. We know what happened this year. We know what type of obstacles we went through. … We’re trying to work on us so there won’t be no question about making the playoffs next year.”

Washington fell to 15-63. The Wizards also lost 63 games in 2000-01 and 2008-09.

“Look, we’re all competitors here, everybody wants to win,” said interim coach Brian Keefe, whose rebuilding team is 8-26 since he took over for Wes Unseld Jr. in late January. “But we’re so focused on the process to get to winning. Those things you don’t want to hear? Sure, we’ve all got stuff inside of us that want to compete and win games. But we’re in the process of improving.”

Deni Avdija had 22 points and 13 rebounds for Washington. Jordan Poole added 20 points and Tristan Vukcevic had 17 for the Wizards, who have four games remaining.

Washington shot a season-worst 15.2% (5 of 33) from 3-point range. Poole hit three of those 3s but missed three in a row late, while his teammates combined to make 2 of 23 attempts.

“I liked the looks,” Keefe said. “We got into what we wanted. We just missed them.”

After trailing for most of the night, Washington took the lead with a 9-1 run. Poole hit a 3 sandwiched by two free throws each from Corey Kispert and Vukcevic, and then Kispert found Vukcevic for an inside dunk to give Washington a 99-98 edge with 3:37 remaining.

The game stayed within a possession until Poole’s consecutive misses allowed Henderson to convert a three-point play on a leaner in traffic that finally pushed Portland back to a 108-102 lead with 15.7 seconds left.

“Scoot’s Scoot,” Trail Blazers coach Chauncey Billups said of Henderson, the No. 2 pick in last year’s draft. “He was up and down a little bit with foul trouble which kind of kept him off of his rhythm. But man, what a big play he made at the end. We needed every one of them.”

UP NEXT

Blazers at Boston on Sunday night.

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BLAZERS 108, WIZARDS 102

PORTLAND (108) — Murray 6-13 0-1 13, Walker 2-6 5-8 11, Ayton 13-25 8-9 34, Henderson 8-14 1-1 19, Rupert 1-8 0-0 3, Minaya 1-4 0-0 2, Reath 2-4 0-0 5, Banton 8-20 3-5 21. Totals 41-94 17-24 108.

WASHINGTON (102) — Avdija 7-12 8-8 22, Davis 3-3 0-0 7, Vukcevic 7-16 3-6 17, Kispert 4-11 3-3 12, Poole 8-20 1-2 20, Baldwin Jr. 1-3 0-1 2, Gill 4-11 0-0 8, Omoruyi 2-3 1-4 5, Champagnie 1-2 1-2 3, Butler 1-7 4-4 6. Totals 38-88 21-30 102.

Portland 32 27 27 22—108

Washington 27 24 30 21—102

3-Point Goals—Portland 9-29 (Henderson 2-4, Walker 2-4, Banton 2-6, Reath 1-3, Murray 1-5, Rupert 1-5, Minaya 0-2), Washington 5-33 (Poole 3-10, Davis 1-1, Kispert 1-7, Baldwin Jr. 0-1, Champagnie 0-1, Omoruyi 0-1, Avdija 0-2, Butler 0-5, Vukcevic 0-5). Rebounds—Portland 55 (Ayton, Walker 13), Washington 45 (Avdija 12). Assists—Portland 29 (Banton 8), Washington 24 (Poole 9). Total Fouls—Portland 23, Washington 21. A—18,079 (20,356)

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