Knee Jerk Reactions: Wizards 84, Blazers 82
Alright, so let’s get this right out of the gate: I do not think that this loss reflects the true worth of these Trail Blazers. However, it’s obvious that these guys need a near perfect setting to play inspired basketball. That atmosphere will only be found inside the Rose Garden, and so home fans will get to see some good wins this season. But when the Blazers are on the road, the living-room television will broadcast plenty of bad losses. Consider tonight, the worst of the season.
Worst … because Washington was the only winless team remaining in the NBA. So now, the Blazers have become the team that lost to the lowly Wizards.
Worst … because the Wizards ranked dead last in the NBA in field-goal percentage shooting (39%) only to welcome in the defenseless Blazers. Though the Wizards went through a fourth-quarter stretch in which they bricked nine straight shots (I’m not even including their turnovers during this time) they still finished the game shooting better than the Blazers with 43.7%.
Worst … because the Blazers either matched or broke three low points for the season. In field goals made (30), field-goal percentage (34.9%) and points scored (82).
Worst … because a real sense of concern and even fear gripped the Blazers. The team got tight, starting even way back in the second quarter when it scored nine points through the nine minutes. Their expressions looked like as if they were worried about dropping three straight, and it showed on the court.
Worst… because of regrettable coaching decisions. During that cold streak for the Wizards, the Blazers roared back with a 15-0 run but the rally hit a brick wall … by Terry Stotts.
The Blazers had scored 15 straight points to tie the game at 79-79. The home crowd was booing, the visiting Blazer fans were taking over, LaMarcus Aldridge had just grabbed an A.J. Price miss, Damian Lillard was dribbling in the halfcourt set and Stotts called a timeout at the 2:48 mark. The decision backfired. Once red-hot, the Blazers scored only three more points in the final 2 minutes and 48 seconds of the game.
More: Poor playmaking decisions for the last two series when trailing 84-82. With 31 seconds left, the ball went to Nicolas Batum for a 3-pointer. Batum shot an airball. Then, the last shot ended in J.J. Hickson’s hands – the one player on the court who should not have had taken the shot. Hickson lost the pass from Damian Lillard, had no sense of what was on the shot clock and thus, threw a wild shot at the rim.
The loss ruined a tremendous performance from Hickson. Besides his final shot – which, again, shouldn’t have gone to him in the first place – Hickson kept the Blazers in the game with 15 points and 19 huge rebounds. One of his offensive grabs and follow-up slams came during the 15-0 fourth-quarter run.
So if you’re searching for silver lining, there you go: Hickson outworked his competition and the Blazers once again showed a knack for rallying from a deficit. But that’s all the glitter I’m going to throw on his pig because this loss was U-G-L-Y. Worst of the season. By far.
Blazers are now 6-9 and winless on this seven-game road trip with Boston on Friday. Celtics may be without their All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo who was ejected on Wednesday night. But whoever’s in green and white on Friday, the Blazers need to respond with their best effort of the season. Too many more missteps like this and there could be a new Washington Wizards of the NBA …