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Big Three Leads Portland To Rout Of Wizards

  1. Written by: Grant Lucas  / avg. rating: 5.0

    With a tough six-game schedule just around the corner with matchups against high-caliber, playoff-bound teams, the Portland Trail Blazers (41-30) couldn't have asked for a better way to roll into it, handing the Washington Wizards (17-52) a 111-76 thumping at the Rose Garden on Tuesday night.

    "I liked that we took care of business," Head Coach Nate McMillan said. "I thought tonight, we had to make some adjustments, play a lot of zone. The zone got us back into the game, slowed them down a little bit... I thought the second half, we came out and sustained the play from the second quarter."

    Gerald Wallace had his best game as a Trail Blazer, pouring in 28 points to go along with eight rebounds. LaMarcus Aldridge added 22 points and six boards, while Nicolas Batum tallied his first career 20-10 game, putting up 22 points and 12 rebounds. The three combined for 49 of Portland's 62 first-half points, going 18-for-29 from the field.

    "Just going to the basket - taking our time, finding the open man, going to the basket," Aldridge said of the front court's success. "I think we played with a lot of poise, just finding the open guy. Gerald was going to the basket, forcing the issue. I tried to go to the basket, force the issue. I think guys just really made an emphasis to attack."

    Wesley Matthews chipped in 15 points, Rudy Fernandez posted 10, and Chris Johnson came off the bench and registered career-highs of seven points and three rebounds, while tying his career best of three rejections.

    Portland ran the floor, dominated inside and crashed the boards, all while shooting 50 percent from the floor and outscoring the Wizards 56-30 in the second and third quarters. In the end, the Trail Blazers notched their third straight home game where they scored at least 110 points - the first streak of its kind since 2002.

    Jordan Crawford led the way for Washington with 12 points, while Kevin Seraphin added 10 as a reserve. The Wizards, however, shot just 37.1 percent from the floor and turned the ball over 27 times, resulting in 33 Portland points. In the process, the Trail Blazers set a season high with 14 steals.

    "We gave up 33 points off turnovers, your front line gets outscored 72-24... they just came," Washington Head Coach Flip Saunders said. "Their physicality... they got into us. It was a situation where you saw a very young team get taken out, get into quick sand and just kept on sinking."

    Wizard rookie John Wall, who finished with nine points and seven assists, acknowledge the Portland defense that forced a season-high 27 turnovers.

    "They did a great job of making us turn the ball over," he said. "We couldn't find guys in transition, and they played better when they're at home... We didn't do anything we had on the game plan, and they got whatever they wanted."

    Washington held a 20-14 advantage in points in the paint in the opening period, but Portland dominated the rest of the way, outscoring the Wizards 48-20 down low. Not only that, but the Trail Blazers also held the edge in second-chance points (23-11) and fastbreak points (19-10).

    Portland fell behind early on after a series of Washington dunks, but the Trail Blazers rallied with a 15-2 run, capped off by a Batum three-ball late in the first. Aldridge paced Portland with 14 first-quarter points and had 22 at halftime.

    Aldridge later hit a turnaround hook shot to polish off another Portland run, this one a 12-2 string that allowed the Trail Blazers to build a 15-point advantage. They closed the half with a 20-8 surge that sent Portland into the locker room leading 62-45.

    The Trail Blazers pushed their lead out to 89-57 after Fernandez tipped in Matthews' missed lay-up that was immediately followed with a Wallace flush off a Brandon Roy alley-oop pass.

    "We were able to force turnovers. The defense was aggressive," Wallace said. "We were able to get out into the open court, and when we're in the open court I like to have fun out there. That was the main thing - transition, pushing the ball and attack."

    The Trail Blazers have a couple of days off before returning to action on Friday night, when Portland starts its challenging six-game stretch, starting with the NBA-leading San Antonio Spurs (57-13) at the Rose Garden.

    "We know that it's going to be a challenge going down the stretch, but the focus is that they're home games, most of them," McMillan said. "We get ready for San Antonio. You can't worry about next week and the road trip. We need to get ready for San Antonio Friday."

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