Washington Wizards Squashed By Blazers At Home
After losing in heartbreaking fashion on Saturday versus the Boston Celtics, the Washington Wizards were looking to get back on the winning track against a Portland Trail Blazers squad that had just lost big to the woeful Philadelphia 76ers by 25 points in the matinee MLK Jr Day game.
The Wizards came out flat yet again in an early game while letting the visitors get comfortable to torch them for six (!) threes in the first quarter after the Blazers only hit 5 threes in the whole game against the Sixers.
Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum came into the game as one of the best backcourts in the NBA and it showed early. Lillard started off the game with two quick buckets and set the tone for the rest of the game for his Blazers team.
Meyers Leonard also made his presence felt as the young big man looked like a young Dirk Nowitzki, and had the Washington Wizards big men on the ropes during that first quarter where the Blazers looked like they were going to have 100 at half-time.
However, other than a few lackluster defensive sets, the Wizards didn’t look terrible (yet). Led by Jared Dudley’s energy and quick interior passing to Marcin Gortat, the Wizards climbed back into the game by shooting 81 (!) percent in the second quarter and finally putting together some defensive stops.The Wizards went into halftime only down 59-57 after being down by 17 points in the game.
Also notable in the second quarter was Coach Randy Wittman going back to the past traditional Wizards lineup of Gortat and Nene in the middle with Wall and two wings.
The results were positive for the Wizards and with Nene and Gortat controlling the boards, the momentum of the game was beginning to turn to the Wizards favor. Going into the half, it felt as if the Wizards had figured the Blazers out and were going to continue to make a push in the second half.
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After a Garrett Temple three to put the Wizards up 60 – 59, things went downhill for the home team in a hurry.
Led by McCollum (25 points on 9-16 shooting, 6 three pointers), the Blazers went on a crazy 100 – 2 run to put the Blazers up big in the third.
Continuing a bad trend this season, opposing teams seem to “right the ship” against the Wizards and the Blazers were no different.
The Blazers and McCollum hit more soul crushing three pointers in the third quarter while theWashington Wizards couldn’t seem to find the hole for long stretches at a time.
It also didn’t help that Wall wasn’t having his usual (as of late) monster game to keep the Wizards competitive in the game. After his huge week which included a four game winning streak with wins against Chicago, Milwaukee and Indiana, Wall was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week earlier in the day by the NBA.
The news wasn’t all bad for the Wizards.
Bradley Beal returned to lineup after sitting out the Celtics game on Saturday. While it showed that he still needs to get the rust off a bit, his offense and playmaking was one of the positives for the Wizards in the game. He finished the contest with 16 on 4-8 shooting, 3 three pointers and five assists. T
he Wizards were led by Temple’s 18 points with Gortat also contributing 16 points to go along with 13 rebounds. The loss puts the Wizards two games under .500 (19 -21) with a home record of 9 – 13.
This current team is performing and looking the same way the 2013-2014 Wizards team performed — super focused, gritty wins and great defense during away games but sluggish, flat and uninterested play at home. This was game number two of a five game home stretch and the team looks to bounce back and avenge a January 3rd home drubbing against the Miami Heat coming up on Wednesday.