Wizards Blow Past Aldridge-less Blazers
This was otherworldly. I guess we should come to expect some of that in the NBA, but not many times do you see something this shocking. I’m not simply talking about the loss, because we know that anyone can beat anyone. But, for the Washington Wizards, of all teams, one of the lowest-ranked offensive teams in the NBA, to absolutely go nuts at the Rose Garden and blow the Trail Blazers out, was simply nuts.
First things first, the Wizards completely lost their minds. But, you do have to tip your cap to Nick Young. If it wouldn’t have been against the Trail Blazers, I would have actually been entertained. It was Jeremy Lin-like. Young averages 17 points per game, and normally shoots 41 percent. In this game, he scored 35 points on an obscene 12 for 17 shooting, including 7 for 8 from behind the three-point line.
It wasn’t just Young. He had help. John Wall was 10 for 14, and scored 29. Jordan Crawford had 21 points off the bench, and shot 9 for 16. He normally shoots 36 percent from the field. And, inside there was JaVale McGee, who went for 18 and 11.
The Wizards, as a team, shot a staggering 60 percent from the field. They were 9 for 17 from behind the three-point line. The previous high point total against Portland this season was 111, and it took Oklahoma City overtime to get that. The Wizards, who average just 90 points per game, scored 124 points at the Rose Garden. Did you hear me? They scored 124 points at the Rose Garden, and beat the Blazers by 15.
If you had told me Portland would shoot 47 percent, at home, against this team, there’s no way I’d think a loss was coming. But, there was one huge factor in this one that punched the Trail Blazers in the gut.
Less than two minutes into the game, LaMarcus Aldridge came down on the foot of some guy named Trevor Booker, and rolled his ankle. He would leave the game and not return. X-rays were negative, but there’s a good chance he misses at least a couple of games coming up. Having not had to play without him this season, the Trail Blazers reacted like a boat that had just had its motor fall off into the ocean.
Nic Batum matched a career high, scoring 33 points on 12 for 24 shooting in this game. The big news, right before tipoff, was that Nate McMillan had changed the starting lineup and had put Batum at the two-guard spot. That was news for about two minutes. Batum’s chance to play the off-guard spot was over quickly. He still played well, and the Blazers had no trouble scoring. Defense? That’s another story.
The Blazers will get killed for their defense on Washington in this game, mostly because you can’t explain this otherwise. Washington simply does not do this. Yes, there were lanes to the basket open all night, and for that Portland should be chewed out. But, their biggest crime was allowing Washington to think it could walk into this building and do what it did. Confidence in this league is a crazy thing. It snowballs quickly. Once Young started bombing away, his teammates started to realize they could do, and it became a feeding frenzy. By the time the Blazers were getting out on shooters it was way too late.
We’ve said all year that the best thing to do after these games is to turn the page and move on. That’s a little tougher after this one, I’ll give you that. It’s especially uncomfortable when you take a look at what lies ahead for Portland. It’s Golden State Wednesday (you don’t need a history lesson on that one), then home for the Clippers. After that, it’s the Hawks, Lakers, Spurs, Nuggets, and Heat.
We’re off to San Francisco. Talk to you Wednesday night.