By Michael Lee
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, March 20, 2010; D03
PORTLAND, ORE. -- Knocked down and beat down all month, the Washington Wizards were finally fed up with the pounding. Late in the fourth period, Al Thornton dunked over Portland Trail Blazers forward Nicolas Batum and Batum bumped him to the ground, sending him sliding into fans and a camera man seated under the basket.
After rolling on the ground for several minutes, holding his side, Thornton got up, angrily glared over at the Trail Blazers' bench and shouted.
"I can't repeat what I said," Thornton said, "but I said something."
After Thornton made his free throw, Randy Foye knocked down a three-pointer to complete a 10-0 run that gave the Wizards a one-point lead with 2 minutes 11 seconds left as a stunned sellout crowd at Rose Garden fell silent. Foye would hit two more pull-up jumpers to evoke some groans as the Wizards moved closer to finally recording a win in March -- against a potential Western Conference playoff team.
But when the game was over, those same fans were standing and applauding after all-star guard Brandon Roy buried a 22-foot jumper over Foye with 0.9 of a second remaining as the Trail Blazers (42-28) escaped with a 76-74 victory.
"He's an unbelievable player," Foye said of Roy. "I know he makes a lot of big shots. The way he was off balance, it looked like he shuffled his feet and I thought a whistle was going to be blown. But he made a great shot."
The Wizards (21-46) have lost 10 in a row, matching the second-longest losing streak in franchise history. They had lost their previous four games by double-digits and arrived in Portland with their leading scorer (Andray Blatche) hobbled with a sprained left ankle and a key reserve (Earl Boykins) stuck back in Denver with a stomach ailment. Boykins is expected to join the team in Los Angeles, where the Wizards will conclude this four-game road trip Sunday against the Lakers.
Blatche was held to just 12 points on 6-of-19 shooting and his string of consecutive games with at least 20 points ended at five. With the game tied at 74, the Wizards had a chance to go ahead, but Mike Miller missed a three-pointer. Blatche tracked down the ball and knocked it off of Batum with 33.4 seconds remaining. The Wizards worked the ball inside to Blatche, but Blatche missed his shot hard off the glass.
"He couldn't move nearly as much," Coach Flip Saunders said of the injured Blatche. "We got him a great look. Usually, he would've scored it. He just couldn't get it up quick enough."
LaMarcus Aldridge scored a game-high 19 points and he teamed up with Marcus Camby (19 rebounds, 4 blocks and 2 steals) to fluster Blatche. Whenever Blatche got the ball in the post, Portland quickly double-teamed him, forcing him to make his move or give up the ball.
Blatche let his frustrations show in the third period, when he attempted to break through a double-team from Aldridge and Batum by dipping his shoulder to create some space. He was called for an offensive foul and complained to the officials to no avail.
"Poor performance. That's no excuse," Blatche said of his ankle. The Trail Blazers "just sent both of their bigs. Once I got past one, another one was there. Seems like they had me boxed in the whole night."
With Blatche unable to provide his usual burst around the basket, Washington battled back behind its defense, which held Portland to just 32.1 percent from the field. James Singleton (10 points, 16 rebounds) made a layup to bring the Wizards within 55-51 with 34.3 seconds remaining in the third quarter, but with an opportunity to move closer, Alonzo Gee, a player on his second 10-day contract, fumbled an outlet pass from Foye out of bounds.
The Trail Blazers scored the first six points of the fourth period, taking a 61-51 lead on an Andre Miller jumper. Miller put the Blazers ahead, 69-60, but the Wizards put together one more rally. After missing seven of his first eight shots, Foye made three consecutive jumpers to give the Wizards a 74-72 lead with 1:01 left.
Aldridge tied the game with two free throws, and after Blatche's miss, the Trail Blazers called a play for Roy, who had missed his previous 14 shots. Roy pump-faked to get Gee off his feet, slid underneath him, then stepped forward to shoot the ball as Foye lunged after him. Roy, who was traded for Foye on the night of the 2006 NBA draft, smiled as he ran down the court. He finished with just 14 points on 4-of-18 shooting.
"That's what makes good players great," Mike Miller said after scoring a team-high 16 points. "He put all that stuff behind him. It doesn't matter until the end. He's their guy, he knows he's their guy and he made a big shot."
After a string of lopsided defeats, Blatche was in no mood to think about moral victories. "All of them hurt the same to me," he said. "Just because this one was a little closer, doesn't make a difference to me. It's all losses."