Portland Sans Camby
The Portland Trail Blazers return to the Rose Garden tonight to take on the Washington Wizards, but the team will be one big short.
After spraining his ankle late in the game against the Los Angeles Lakers, Marcus Camby will miss Portland's matchup tonight against the Wizards.
"It's always tough when you're not out there when you think you could help the team out," he said. "It's definitely frustrating to a point."
Filling in for Camby will be Chris Johnson, who is in his second stint with the Trail Blazers this season. Although the newest Trail Blazer hasn't seen much playing time, Head Coach Nate McMillan said Johnson will rotate in and get some minutes, while Nicolas Batum will spend some time at power forward.
"I think he's going to fit right in," Camby said. "This is his second tour with us this season so he pretty much knows how we do things around here."
Camby said he's shooting to return against the San Antonio Spurs on Friday, but McMillan said that they'll look at the veteran center tomorrow and see how he feels.
Not only did the Trail Blazers lose a big man late in the game against the Lakers, but they also dropped the matchup.
Portland held a six-point lead with five mintues remaining, as Los Angeles struggled to hit shots from the field.
Behind Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher, however, the Lakers put together a 16-6 rally to close the game, sealing an 84-80 win after Fisher hit a mid-range jumper late in the fourth.
Although the Trail Blazers saw their fourth-quarter lead melt away, McMillan said there's not hang-up on how the game ended.
"It's a new day," he said. "We've got to refocus and learn from that game in Los Angeles. Understand that [Washington] did beat us earlier. They're playing loose, still playing hard, so we're going to have to outwork this team. All the things you do against any team you got to do tonight. It doesn't change. Outwork them, defend them and execute."
As of late, Camby said Portland's defense has been solid. Despite letting one slip away against the Lakers, he said the Trail Blazers will need to put that game behind them and have a better performance against the Wizards.
"We have great players and a great group," Camby said. "Despite the loss in LA, I think overall we've been playing particularly well, especially here at home in front of our home crowd."
Defensively, McMillan said his team did enough early to get itself in a position to win, but Portland didn't execute down the stretch. He said that in order to close out games, the Trail Blazers need to get to where they need to be and not allow defenses to completely take them out of what the offense wants to run.
" It depends on the flow of the game, what you need to do, but the bottom line is you need to execute down the stretch to win games on both ends of the floor," McMillan said. "Your defense has to be solid and your offense has to be solid. You've got to be clear about what you're supposed to be doing and then do it."
Playing the Team, Not the Record
Tonight, the Trail Blazers will have the opportunity to get back on track when they face off with the Wizards at the Rose Garden.
Washington overcame a 12-point deficit against Portland back in early December, handing the Trail Blazers their sixth straight loss - Portland's longest skid since 2005-06.
Now, both teams have different rosters, different personnel. The game, however, remains the same.
"They've made some trades and we've made some trades, but for the most part, they're doing similar to what they were doing earlier in the year," McMillan said.
The Wizards have run teams up and down with their speed, led by rookie John Wall, who is averaging nearly 16 points and nine assists per game. With Wall in the backcourt, McMillan said Washington is a team that likes to run, putting pressure on teams to get back defensively in transition.
"[Wall] is extremely fast. He attacks the basket," McMillan said. "In transition, in the open floor, he's probably one of the fastest guards in the league. He's looking to shoot the ball and be aggressive. What we need to do is keep him in front of us and not allow him to get going in transition, get in the paint, because he can finish and he sees the floor well."
The Wizards, according to McMillan, are a team that plays hard, that scraps. Although they have had trouble finishing games, they play hard for 48 minutes.
Portland, he said, needs to counteract, not worry about Washington's past performance and play a good, sharp 48-minute game, outworking Washington on the boards and execute its sets offensively, all while maintaining an aggressive attitude in attacking the Wizards' defense.
"They play loose, they play hard," McMillan said. "For us, we've got to come out and play basketball and we've got to be sharp. We've got to outwork them. It doesn't change as far as the approach of this team. It's not about looking over a team or playing their record. You've got to play the game and play the game the right way."
Camby held a similar mindset.
"You can't take no team lightly. They're quick, they're young, athletic and they're playing for nothing. That's the team you've got to be weary of."