Trail Blazers vs Warriors Wednesday, 04/17/13 AT 07:00PM

Trail Blazers Comeback But Eventually Lose to Wizards

11/28/12
  1. Written by: erikgundersen  / avg. rating: 5.0

    Portland started the game six of seven from the field. However, the offense stopped clicking and they couldn't get enough stops. Despite a double-double of 19 points and 15 rebounds from JJ Hickson, the Trail Blazers (6-9) ultimately fell to the Washington Wizards (1-12) 84-82.

    "This league's tough and reality has hit in. You've got to deal with it," head coach Terry Stotts said.

    That reality, as Coach Stotts put it, is that after getting back to five-hundred against Minnesota, the Trail Blazers have lost three straight road games including two to teams (Detroit on Monday, Washington tonight) that are at the bottom of the Eastern Conference and NBA standings.

    The six of seven start from the Trail Blazers hinted of a promising start. The signs of the bounce-back win they needed to not allow this road trip to go spiraling out of control seemed to be there. The start did not prove to be an indicator of anything the Trail Blazers did offensively.

    "We didn't shoot the ball well, especially when you hit six of your first seven shots and after that we didn't shoot that well," Stotts said.

    The Trail Blazers shot 24 for 79 (30 percent) after their hot start.

    Credit should be given where credit is due and the Wizards played a great game defensively. They overplayed Damian Lillard often on pick and rolls, they pressured the ball and most importantly, they got back on defense. They brought the pace of the game to a grinding halt. Portland only had one fast break point and although they only rank 17th in the NBA in pace (possessions per game), the Trail Blazers have proven to be at their best when they run. The Trail Blazers are the fifth best team when it comes to transition points per possession in the NBA, according to Synergy Sports Technology. Portland had only one fast break point the whole night.

    The Wizards are a bad offensive team (30th in offensive efficiency) and have been much better defensively. According to Hoopdata, they rank 8th in the league in defensive efficiency. They leaned on their defense as they held the Trail Blazers to 16 points in the second quarter. Using a carousel of big men to patrol the paint (Emeka Okafor, Nene, Kevin Seraphin, Chris Singleton) they were effective in keeping the Trail Blazers out of the lane. LaMarcus Aldridge was doing a good job of going to work on the block but it didn't seem like it was enough as the teams headed into the halftime tied. Aldridge finished with 17 points on eight of 19 shooting, seven rebounds and three assists.

    Nicolas Batum (20 points and four rebounds) and Damian Lillard (20 points and five assists) had more productive performances tonight as they combined to score 40 points. They did a lot of their damage from beyond the arc as they shot a combined nine of 19 (47 percent) from there. They did have trouble scoring in the paint because of the Wizards aforementioned interior strength.

    The Trail Blazers jumped out to a 9-2 run in the first 2:30 of the third quarter behind three baskets from Hickson and a three from Lillard. Even though the Trail Blazers seemed to lack energy against a Wizards team that desperately wanted their first win after being close many times but Hickson didn't let the Trail Blazers die. He was relentless on the glass and his endless energy gave the deep frontline of the Wizards trouble all night long.

    However, the Wizards put the clamps on the Trail Blazers at the four-minute mark of the the third. The Trail Blazers didn't get a field goal from the 4:01 mark until the 1:15 mark of the third on a lay-up by Batum, which was their only field goal before the quarter ended. The Wizards got good looks and they had a nine-point lead at the end of the third quarter.

    The Wizards continued outplaying the Trail Blazers as the fourth quarter began. They extended their lead to 15 after a Jordan Crawford jumper at the 8:52 mark. Crawford was the high-point man for the Wizards as he provided 19 points off the bench.

    The Trail Blazers woke up.

    Back-to-back threes from Batum and Lillard cut the lead to nine. Hickson continued to be a beast on the offensive glass where he totaled nine of his 19 rebounds. Aldridge chipped in with a few buckets as well. A free-throw by Nicolas Batum culminated a 16-0 run for the Trail Blazers as they took a one-point lead at the 2:27 mark of the fourth. A three by Jordan Crawford gave the Wizards a two-point lead but Aldridge answered on the subsequent play to tied the game at 82. On the next possession, Emeka Okafor got deep post position on Aldridge and Aldridge elected to foul him rather than allow an easy look at the bucket. Okafor was a 65% free-throw shooter coming in to the game. Okafor hit both with 39 second left.

    The Trail Blazers tried to send it to overtime twice, but failed both times.

    "We have to recognize how we have to play. Our margin for error is very slim," Stotts said.

    Wesley Matthews, who had an off night (2-10 shooting but he is dealing with a thumb injury on his shooting hand), was Portland's most vocal critic.

    “I got after them a little bit in the locker room after the game," Matthews said. "We need to win. We need to believe we are winners and we need to take the approach every day in everything that we do."

    Whether you're playing a team with no wins or the team with the NBA's best record, it almost doesn't matter in the NBA season. Any team can get you on the wrong night.

    Portland plays the first of a back-to-back in Boston against the Celtics on Friday. That game will air at 4:30 PM and will be shown on CSNNW. It can be heard on 1190 AM and 102.3 FM.

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