Despite a valiant effort from John Wall to keep his Washington Wizards within reach for much of the game, without Marcin Gortat, who injured his back in pre-game warmups, the Wizards didn’t have the size nor defense to compete with the Portland Trail Blazers away from home.
Washington had led for a while in the first half, but it all fell apart late in the second quarter where the Trail Blazers went on an 8-0 run in about a minute. The Wizards committed two consecutive turnovers to end the first half and the Trail Blazers converted with a couple of easy baskets in transition. Portland led by 2 at the half, but they pulled away early in the third quarter, knocking down 4 straight threes on 4 possessions. Washington continued to fight, but gave up way too many open three point shots and it eventually caused them to lose their second straight game.
Now on to some game notes and individual performances.
With Marcin Gortat out, Randy Wittman decided to insert Kevin Seraphin in the starting lineup even though he hasn’t stepped on the court in weeks. Seraphin was nonexistent, for the most part, aside from a big block on Damian Lillard in the first quarter. We know that Seraphin can score the ball, but the Trail Blazers are the league’s best rebounding team and Robin Lopez took advantage of Seraphin on the boards right from the start. Drew Gooden continued to impress off the bench, scoring 18 to go along side 9 rebounds. Like Seraphin, Gooden is very capable of scoring the ball, but his defense leaves much to be desired. The Trail Blazers are one of the NBA’s best offensive teams and not having Marcin Gortat or Nene around to protect the rim really hurt tonight.
On top of the lack of rim protection, Randy Wittman decided to play two big men despite Portland playing a small lineup all night long and Washington definitely payed the price. Trevor Booker was late on rotations, often leaving Nic Batum or Dorell Wright wide open for three. Washington didn’t contest very many three point shots tonight, but that probably wouldn’t have been the case had Wittman matched up according to size. Bad coaching decision on his part, to say the least.
John Wall and Damian Lillard had gone back-and-forth all night long, but I thought Wall got the best of the match up tonight. Wall scored 24 points including a career-high 5 three point shots to go along side 14 assists. Wall pushed the ball right from the start and Portland had trouble defending him in transition. Even though tonight didn’t go Washington’s way, I thought they did a great job at pushing the tempo and they have to continue doing so in the future. With both Nene and Gortat out, the Wizards can’t afford to play in the half court and pushing the ball is basically a must.
Bradley Beal, Wall’s back court mate, wasn’t nearly as efficient as Wall. Beal scored 18 points on 18 shot attempts, but he did play with more aggressiveness than he has been over the past few games. He’s still taking way too many mid-range jump shots and it’s really hurting his shooting percentage.
Washington won’t have much time to rest as they have a game against the Los Angeles Lakers tomorrow night. The Wizards are now just 2 games above .500 and they have to find a way to win in L.A.