After a half-hearted effort most of the night, the Portland Trail Blazers roar back into the game late, but it's too-little, too-late as the previously 0-12 Washington Wizards hold on for their first win of the season. This was the kind of disheartening game that makes it a challenge to be a dedicated Blazers fan.
The concept of "leadership" was somewhat questionable tonight. However, the Blazers were led in stats by JJ Hickson (15 points, 19 rebounds), LaMarcus Aldridge (17 points, 7 rebounds), Damian Lillard (20 points, 5 assists) and Nicolas Batum (20 points).
First Quarter: The Blazers hit their first three pointers of the game, and jumped to an 11 point lead in 4 minutes before Washington called timeout. Things slowed down from there, as the Blazers continued to lazily shoot outside jumpers, but they stopped falling. If you do that long enough, even the Wizards will come back, and they slowly did, cutting the Blazer lead to 1 with a minute left. But Batum and Lillard helped salvage a promising quarter, giving Portland a 4 point lead after one.
Wizards key to the game: Just Win.
by T Darkstar
Second Quarter: Former Blazer Martell Webster was clearly amped up to play his former team, which led to an offensive foul early. But beyond that, the Blazer bench struggled to get anything going, getting trapped by the Wiz D on multiple possessions. After a timeout, the Wizards' Jordan Crawford strolled down the lane through the defense for an open layup and the lead. Meanwhile, the Blazers' field goal percentage continued to plummet. From the point the Blazers led by 11, the winless Washington Wizards outscored them by 17 points to lead by 6. That apparently woke up the Blazers, who closed the quarter "strong" to tie the game.
By this point, the Blazers shot 36% from the field, while the normally-awful Wizards shot 46% against Portland's atrocious defense.
Apparently anyone named Crawford is going to kill us this year.
Third Quarter: Hickson started nicely with 6 quick points, plus a Lillard three. However, the now-inspired Wizards wouldn't go away. Soon, they had a 4 point lead again. The Blazers looked like a YMCA team, and I apologize in advance to a number of YMCA teams that took offense to that statement. Frantic play, poor organization, no defense, missed shots from 2 feet away. It was a disaster to watch. And after all that, the Wizards still only led by 2 with a minute left in the quarter. The Blazers found a way to fall apart in that one minute, giving up 7 points to fall behind by 9 at the end of the quarter. The only thing missing was the Keystone Cops music.
There is still 12 minutes of this offensive offense to suffer through.
by Dep H
Fourth Quarter: The Wiz quickly took a 15 point lead. It was quite possibly the most depressing Blazer game in 10 years that didn't involve an injury. People in the Gameday Thread were actually posting the "I called it!" comments, proud that they predicted the Blazers would lose.
Then the Blazers scored 10 straight points in 3 minutes.
Suddenly both teams woke up as the crowd gasped. The Wizards' shots stopped falling. The Blazers energy picked up. On a broken play, An Aldridge jumper cut the lead to three, then a Hickson offensive board and dunk cut the lead to 1 with four minutes left. With 3:18 left, JJ hit a free throw for the 15th straight point to tie the game. The Wiz had chances and missed, and Batum was fouled with 2:27 left. He rattled in one to give the Blazers the lead. But after all that, Crawford hit a three to give the Wiz the lead. Aldridge tied it with a jumper at the other end. After swapping possessions, Emeka Okafor was fouled and gave the Wizards a 2 point lead with 40 seconds left.
As the crowd celebrated, the Blazers took timeout to reset. The gave the ball to Aldridge, who was trapped. Batum missed a tough three, and Lillard was called for traveling on the rebound. It was another ugly moment in an ugly season. Nene had a chance to win at the other end, but Lillard drew the offensive foul to give the Blazers one last gasp, down by two.
On the final possession, the Keystone Cops reigned. However, the Wizards turned the ball over on the inbound pass. With 0.2 seconds, the Blazers didn't have enough time to complete the comeback.
Wiz Fans: For any of you still out there reading, congratulations. An 0-12 start is rough, so enjoy the win, you've earned one. Hang in there.
The next game is Friday afternoon, a 4:30 pm game against the aging Eastern Power, the Boston Celtics. Stay tuned later for Dave's analysis of tonight's game! -- Tim