Blazers unable to complete comeback, fall to Wizards 105-97
The Washington Wizards held off a late rally by the Portland Trail Blazers Monday night in the Nation’s Capital to win 105-97. The Wizards led by as much as 25 and dominated much of the game as the Blazers looked like a team that had played the night before.
The Blazers are now 9-5 on the second of back-to-backs but tonight it definitely looked like a fresh Wizards team took advantage of a sluggish Blazers team that were making tons of mental mistakes. The Blazers only committed 10 turnovers as a team but it seemed like the Wizards were deflecting a much higher percentage of Blazers’ passes than we’re used to seeing.
Making matters worse for Portland’s offense was that almost everything was coming up short (sound like fatigue, anyone?). Arron Afflalo’s jumpers that had fallen early in the last two games had clanked off the front rim and the Wizards employed the same strategy that the Raptors did Sunday in using multiple looks to try to take LaMarcus Aldridge out of the game.
The Blazers couldn’t make the Wizards pay for their double teams often and had a below-average night shooting the ball from long-range. The Blazers found ways to score in a game where they didn’t shoot well, often attacking the offensive boards. Aldridge had eight of their 14 offensive rebounds and overall the Blazers had 18 second chance points.
But the Blazers lost this game with their transition defense. Even off missed shots, the Blazers needed to be better. John Wall is one of, if not the league’s most dangerous ball-handler in transition, and he used his speed to beat the Blazers down the court more than a few times. Even the likes of Ramon Sessions and Rasual Butler got their licks in on the Blazers, so it was just the starters who played poorly. And bench players don’t have as much as an excuse for fatigue.
Simply put, the Blazers were bad. The Wizards are on a little bit of a roll and got up for a big game against a tough opponent. Portland got some shots to fall after the Wizards pushed the lead up 25 and the Blazers showed fight like they always do. Batum had his second straight double-double and Aldridge played well even though the Wizards worked hard to take him out of the game.
Chris Kaman played well off Portland’s bench but few others of Portland’s reserves could say the same. CJ McCollum did a decent job fitting into the offense and hitting shots during the rally but almost everybody else didn’t have a productive game. Meyers Leonard and Dorell Wright were ice cold from the field.
It’s not a surprise the Blazers lost one of these first two as it is likely their toughest back-to-back games on the trip with two winning teams. They’ll play the Miami Heat Wednesday on the heels of an emotional win against LeBron James and co.
- Head coach Terry Stotts went with the front court of Aldridge and Leonard when the Blazers were down big. It seemed to help generate good looks even though Leonard couldn’t hit for much of the night. The Blazers run started with that front court on the floor and when their offense needed a kick. Stotts also saved a little first half time to play Leonard with Lopez.
- CJ McCollum is really figuring out a way to blend in to Portland’s offense. He was 2-for-5 tonight but his passes in transition and off the dribble, though not always leading to assists, are showing growth. If he can continue to improve on defense, the Blazers will have the type of player that they need coming off the bench.
- John Wall handily outplayed Damian Lillard tonight. Lillard struggled with his shot and some credit should go to Wall not allowing Lillard to get much airpsace on jumpers. And some of the acrobatic finishes he was able to complete Sunday didn’t fall Monday against the Wizards.
- The Wizards won the fastbreak points category 25-4. Although the Blazers had a lot of turnovers, the Wizards really hurt the Blazers off missed shots.