When the Wizards arrived at Rose Garden for their morning shootaround, Coach Flip Saunders brought his team together for a short film session in the locker room. He warned his players that they were facing some teams on this five-game trip that are playing with a purpose and that the Wizards needed to elevate their game in order to stay on the floor with them.
“Everything gets notched up as the season progresses. After the exhibition, it gets ratcheted up, start of the regular season. You get to the all-star game, it gets ratcheted up another. The last three, four weeks of the season, it gets ratcheted up again, especially with the teams in the playoffs and of course in the playoffs, every series gets ratcheted up,” Saunders said. “You’re going to be playing teams that have something [at stake]. Those teams, what they want to do, they want to get you right away because they don’t want it to come down to the fourth quarter and see a young team gain some confidence.”
The Portland Trail Blazers are one of three teams in playoff contention on this trip and they didn’t waste any time putting the Wizards away during a 111-76 shellacking on Tuesday night. The Trail Blazers led by 38 points in the fourth quarter and gave the fans free chalupas by topping triple digits with about six minutes left in the game. While avenging an 83-79 loss in Washington, Portland once again trounced an inferior opponent at home -- the Trail Blazers are 13-1 at home against teams with losing records and pounded lowly Cleveland by 41 points in a win last week.
“I like that we took care of business,” Portland Coach Nate McMillan said.
The Wizards were complicit, as they made terrible passes and applied little resistance defensively while losing for the 32nd time in 33 road games. The Blazers had 62 points in the paint, got 33 points off 27 turnovers and had 23 second-chance points. The worst example of their deficient defense came in the third quarter when John Wall missed a long jumper and notorious Wizards killer Gerald Wallace grabbed the rebound and glided down the court for an easy layup.
“We have three guys back and they just let him dribble in and get a dunk,” Saunders said. “You have to step in, take charges and do all of those little things. It was a situation where you saw a very young team get taken out, get into quick sand and just kept on sinking.”
The Wizards matched their season-low with just 76 points and they were undermanned without four of their top players. With the team reliant on the backcourt scoring of Wall and Jordan Crawford it didn’t help that they combined to score just 21 points on 6 for 27 (22 percent) shooting.
“It’s tough with injuries, but you can’t blame it on what we didn’t have,” said Wall, who scored just nine points and missed 9 of 12 from the floor. “As a young group, you have to play hard and compete. When we do that, we’re basically in just about every game. But the nights we don’t do it, teams are too talented and they blow us out.
“We’re really learning what it takes -- you’ve got to compete and play hard,” Wall said. “It’s a lot of rookies out here still learning the NBA game and we’re doing the best we can. and all we can do is try to get better the rest of the season and then using the offseason, really focus on watching film and figure out what you really need to work on.”
FROM THE POST
The John Wall dance has hit “Dancing Withe the Stars” (DC Sports Bog).
Ted Leonsis says, “No One Knows Nothing” (The Early Lead).
AROUND THE WEB
Bullet Nation in Exile got a little swagger from Wall’s performance against the Nets on Sundy (Bullets Forever).
See JaVale McGee’s spectacular block, Truth-About-It-style.
Carla Peay profiles the Wizards’ main building block, John Wall (Washington Times).
Ron Artest says he was “just out there skating” during the Lakers’ triple overtime win over the Phoenix Suns (Los Angeles Times).