Wizards vs. Trail Blazers: LaMarcus Aldridge outplays Washington in the paint
By Gene Wang,
The Washington Wizards unraveled in the fourth quarter on Saturday night, yielding several flurries to Portland in a game that was within reach much of the way before ending in a 110-99 loss in front of 18,071 at Verizon Center.
The Wizards received a team-high 25 points from point guard John Wall, who shot 9 for 19 and added eight assists with no turnovers and four rebounds. Washington had three other players reach double figures, including 15 points and four rebounds from center JaVale McGee, but that production wasn’t enough to offset a virtuoso performance by LaMarcus Aldridge.
The Trail Blazers’ all-star forward scored a game-high 30 points on 12-for-15 shooting to go along with 10 rebounds, three assists and two blocks. Aldridge also made all six of his free throw attempts. Backup guard Jamal Crawford had 23 points and starting point guard Raymond Felton chipped in 21 for Portland, which had five players score in double digits.
“Basically they got whatever they wanted whenever they ran pick and roll,” Wall said. “Raymond Felton got going. Jamal Crawford got going. Guys cutting to the basket, and especially LaMarcus scoring on the block.”
The Wizards (9-30) failed in their attempt at winning for the third time in four games, which would have been a first this season, and sloppy foul shooting contributed mightily. Washington shot 64 percent (16 of 25) from the line. The Trail Blazers, meantime, converted 26 of 27, with the only miss coming with 48 seconds to play.
After the game remained tight through three quarters, the Trail Blazers expanded their lead to 86-76 with 11 minutes 11 seconds left following four straight points to open the final period.
But just when the game seemed in danger of getting away, the Wizards ran off seven points in a row. Reserve guard Roger Mason Jr. (eight points, four rebounds) contributed five in that surge, and his jumper drew the Washington to 88-85 with 7:32 to play.
Crawford sank a three-pointer for Portland (20-21), which soon thereafter had a basket from Aldridge that grew the lead to 93-85. Mason again came to the rescue for the Wizards by hitting a three-pointer, his second of the game, with 6:32 to go to make it 93-88.
But that’s when the Trail Blazers embarked on a 9-2 burst. Felton scored the final five points of that decisive run, capping it with a three-point play when Jordan Crawford fouled him with 3:55 remaining in the game.
Felton’s bonus free throw gave Portland a 102-90 lead, and Washington got no closer than eight the rest of the way.
“I just thought we couldn’t get stops together when we needed to at that critical point there in the fourth quarter,” Wizards Coach Randy Wittman said.
Washington came into Saturday’s game riding the euphoria of a 106-101 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers three nights earlier. The Trail Blazers, meantime, were playing their second game in as many nights and for the third time in four days.
But in opening stages, it was Portland that appeared more energetic. Most notable was Aldridge, who scored 16 points in the first half. He played only two minutes in the teams’ first meeting at the Rose Garden on Feb. 14 after injuring his ankle, and the Wizards capitalized with a 124-109 victory.
There would be no such separation this time. The game was tied six times before intermission, and neither side went ahead by more than seven points in a physical first half. The teams combined for 19 personal fouls, and tensions escalated with 1:45 left until halftime.
That’s when after Gerald Wallace made a jumper to give Portland a 52-46 margin, Trail Blazers teammate Marcus Camby shoved Wizards forward Kevin Seraphin underneath the Portland basket. Seraphin pushed back, and officials separated the players before assessing a flagrant foul-2 on Camby and ejecting the 15-year veteran. Seraphin was called for a technical foul.
The Wizards kept the margin within two possessions until Nicolas Batum’s fast-break layup with 1:23 left in the quarter provided an 80-72 lead. Andray Blatche’s jumper completed the third-quarter scoring and drew Washington within six before Portland pulled away.
“We didn’t play much defense tonight,” Wizards forward Trevor Booker said. “Maybe we were too focused on the offensive end.”