No Brandon Roy, no problem, right? I mean, the Blazers just beat up on Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic, and the competition level was moving from the penthouse of the Southeast Division to the cellar as they took on the Wizards in Verizon Center.
Unfortunately didn't work out that way, as Andre Miller was apparently the only one to pack his A-game for the road trip. And shortly after the team jet took off, it's rumored that Nate McMillan smacked his forehead and said "Post defense! I knew I forgot something. Maybe we can pick some up at the hotel store..." Antawn Jamison, Caron Butler and Randy Foye got whatever they wanted in the paint whenever they wanted it. Mike Miller, in his return from four games off with a calf injury, didn't bother to miss a shot.
The Blazers hung tight thanks to the aforementioned A. Miller (+5, the only player above +1), 15 big rebounds and a variety of shots from Lamarcus Aldridge and intermittent aggression from Tyrannasaurus 'Ryd, who didn't shoot great but collected eight assists. But ultimately, trading long two-pointers for layups and foul shots gave the Wiz the win.
Random Game Notes:
- That is the first time I have ever seen offensive goal-tending called on a play on which the offending player did not touch the ball. Not sure how Pendergraph gained an advantage by hanging onto the rim.
- Think Jerryd Bayless is excited to be getting some fourth-quarter run? He literally skipped onto the court.
- Some interesting reactions to Blazers personnel from the Washington crowd. Lots of love for Maryland alum Steve Blake and a big cheer when Rudy Fernandez entered the game (maybe the whole Spanish consulate attended?), but Juwan Howard was not so kindly regarded. Howard played his first seven years there, making an All-Star team in '96 before signing a ginormous contract (the first in league history worth more than $100 million) and proceeding to never play all-star caliber ball again. Michael Jordan moved him four seasons later and he's been bouncing around the league since, making eight stops with six teams.
- Attendance, officially above 12,000, couldn't possibly have been more than half that, and there were several hundred Blazer fans present. An example of the sparseness of the crowd. I had the men's room all to myself at halftime.
- We may have lost the game, but we deprived them of delicious sandwiches. The variant of Chalupa time in D.C. is the Chick-Fil-A "fowl up," where if a particular foul shooter for the visiting team misses both his shots, everybody gets free food. Bayless hit the back end. If the game hadn't been tight I might have accused him of missing the first on purpose just to screw with the crowd.
- Gilbert Arenas has been scrubbed from all team pregame footage. He's like an apparatchik who's fallen out of favor and has been erased from all historical photos of Stalin.
- Rudy, mi amigo, I know you're trying to work yourself back into things, but you should not have even considered taking about half those shots. In the states we call that "chucking."
- I don't attend many live games, so some of the fan experience bits stay new-ish, to me. Like the floating electric/plumbing van, just in case you come to the Wizards game undecided on a rotorooter. Or the fact that the referees are out there warming up too. Or the straight-outta-Hawthorne bongo brigade halftime show. Or a guy from the trampoline dunk team throwing his pants into the crowd. Or of course the standard-issue NBA caste system whereby if you want any of the freebies you gotta be on the 100 level.