Last night the Wizards fell to the Portland Trailblazers 111-76, dropping their road record to 1-32. In our preview, while we acknowledged that the Wizards were facing a better, perhaps more motivated opponent, we mentioned that putting forth a concentrated effort on defense, taking good care of the ball, and competing on the boards could lead to a competitive 4th quarter. None of that happened.
The Wizards were out-rebounded 45-32 (15-10 offensive), turned the ball over a whopping 27 times (to Portland’s 20), and were slow to rotate both inside and out to shooters – had the Blazers shot better than 25% on threes, the final margin could have been even larger. Over the course of the game, the Blazers proved to be the more disciplined team with the ability to execute, and they made the Wizards pay for their incompetence. Without four of their best players – Andray Blatche, Nick Young, Rashard Lewis, and Josh Howard – the Wizards were short on talent, and would have needed a resolute effort on both ends to keep up with the Blazers. They simply did not bring that in Portland.
Teams get blown out. The Heat, Lakers, Spurs, and more have all suffered defeats greater than 20 points. I am not going to get too down on the Wizards for getting blown out on the road by a superior team while their most experienced players were in street clothes. Were some bad habits on display? Some poor body language? Sure. But the Wizards have another game tonight against a recently healthy Clippers team that expects to have Eric Gordon and Chris Kaman dress and play. They don’t have time to lament over last night’s failures.
I am more interested in how they will compete tonight. It is the second night of a back-to-back, but their legs are young, and they should want revenge from a team that handily beat them in their own building not two weeks ago. So let’s carefully watch their effort in tonight’s game. Again, the focus is not the win or the loss, but how they compete, bringing a professional attitude and approach to the game at hand. This group will get blown out in future days – it is part of the growing pains, especially when compounded with injuries to key players. But how will they respond? We don’t have to wait long to find out.