A depleted Wizards team meant Trail Blazers big man Hassan Whiteside could take advantage of Washington’s smaller lineup.
And, that’s exactly what he did Friday night.
The Blazers four starters of Whiteside, Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, and Carmelo Anthony all shot 50 percent or better from the field to help Portland secure the 122-103 win over Washington, and snap their five-game losing streak.
Now that is showing major efficiency.
Whiteside also made his typical impact in the paint defensively. He was gobbling up defensive rebounds and making sure to alter several shots when the Wizards drove to the basket.
“I just wanted to get 20 and 20, what year we in?” Whiteside joked with Trail Blazers sideline reporter Brooke Olzendam after the win.
As Whiteside, described it, he got his first “Barbara Walters game” of the New Year, a 20 and 20 game.
Yep, Whiteside is not only good for rebounds, blocks, and scoring, he’s also great for a quote.
The big man finished with 23 points and 21 boards to go along with his five blocks.
But more importantly than his ‘Barbara Walters’ game was that the Blazers came together as a team to get the job done, especially after falling to the Knicks Wednesday night.
We had a tough loss in New York so I had to come out here and I really wanted to come out here and get it started off the right way. I feel like this is the most we’ve been locked in. We was locked in defensively. Let’s turn this thing around. – Trail Blazers center Hassan Whiteside postgame
Whiteside was hit with a technical foul following his hard take to the rim.
After making the basket that Lillard assisted, Whiteside flexed his muscles, looking like he wanted a foul to be called, which didn’t happen.
The flex has been a staple in Whiteside’s calm celebrations.
But apparently the officials didn’t take kindly to it.
Whiteside said with a smile postgame, “I’ve never got a tech on a flex.”
Don’t worry the flex is not going away, Whiteside made sure to add that he knows fans love it.
What’s also not going away is Whiteside’s determination to be the best defender he can be.
“I want to be a defensive anchor. Like I’ve said, I feel like I’m the best rim protector in the league and that’s not going away. We’ve just got to lock in better defensively overall. It’s a team effort and I feel like we did that tonight.”
Being the lone center that is healthy enough to play right now for the Blazers, Portland’s head coach Terry Stotts was pleased that Whiteside used his skill and athleticism to his advantage against the Wizards.
“He has a knack around the basket. I mean he goes after the ball, as far as 20 rebounds, he goes after them. He’s got a lot of length. He’s able to get to balls. His scoring a lot of times, he’s the beneficiary of passing, but I thought he really went after some offensive rebounds and really created some opportunities for himself,” Stotts told reporters postgame.
Now the Blazers will get a big test when facing the 25-10 Miami Heat on their homecourt.
Sunday’s game in South Beach will be the first time Whiteside has played against his former team.
It’s apparent Whiteside is excited and anxious to be back in the American Airlines Arena.
“It’ll be great going back there,” Whiteside told NBC Sports Northwest. “It’s going to feel weird, I know it is, playing against guys that was my teammates, playing against in front of the Heat fans and having a different jersey. You know, I’ve got a lot of memories there, it’s going to be interesting.”