“It’s good because we’ve got a long flight, so it’s good to get out there,” Coach Flip Saunders said. “I’ve always talked the last few games about positive reinforcement. I think the biggest thing is, it gives positive reinforcement to our guys. It’s not a magic formula, success in this league. If you play hard and cut down your mistakes, you’re going to have opportunities and chances.”

John Wall helped carry the Wizards (17-51) to their first win in seven games by scoring 26 points, including the decisive jumpers in the last two minutes, and realizes the importance of securing a home win before they face Portland, the Los Angeles Clippers, Denver, Golden State and Utah. They will open against the Trail Blazers on Tuesday at the Rose Garden.

“Finally we get a win,” Wall said. “Hopefully this can give us some motivation going into Portland. We know it’s going to be tough playing against them. We beat them one time here, but they’re a tough team. They’re playing better since the all-star break so we got a tough road trip, and we just got to come away with some wins.”

The Wizards are 6-19 against Western Conference opponents this season, including 0-10 away from the Verizon Center. Of their five opponents, the Clippers and Warriors are the only teams on the trip that aren’t headed to the postseason. The Wizards, though, have home wins against Portland and Utah, which is in a tussle with Memphis, Houston and Phoenix for the last playoff spot in the West.

“The West Coast trip is going to be tough, especially at this stage of the game,” Maurice Evans said. “It’s late in the year, and a lot of these teams are in the playoffs and we just got to really strap up and give it our best effort and try and compete each and every night and try to give ourselves a chance to win.”


Here are the game story and postgame wrap-up.


In his Keys to the Palace, Jon Kelman says only John Wall matters (Bullets Forever).

Portland’s Andre Miller is a different kind of point guard (Matt Crossman, aol.sportingnews.com).

Is Carmelo Anthony fitting in with the Knicks? (Eye on Basketball, CBSSports.com).