In a close, chippy game, the Portland Trail Blazers pulled away late for an 11 point victory over the Washington Wizards. This was a game where you're happy to pick up the win, but it does nothing to stop the questions and rumors. The Blazers struggled to stay ahead of a team with a 9-29 record. In the second, Marcus Camby was ejected due to shoving Kevin Seraphin.
The Blazers were led byand adding 10 rebounds, with support from (23 points), (21 points and a big second half) and (15 points, 8 rebounds).
Both teams came out with hot shooting in the first. While this can be due to nice crisp offensive execution, the answer was simpler here: Neither side was making a serious effort on defense. Portland took a few leads of 5+ points, but could not hold them, as Washington scored almost at will.layed in a finger roll just before the buzzer to tie the score after one.
The Blazers quickly took a small lead in the second, then spend the rest of the quarter trying to defend it. Late in the half, with the Blazers leading by 6,presses his forearm into throat while going for a rebound. In retaliation, Camby shoved Seraphin into photographer row under the hoop. In response, referee Scott Foster ejected Camby from the game. The Blazers held on for a 3 point halftime lead.
Little change at the start of the third. Again, the Blazers pushed the lead to 6, only for the Wiz to stay close. I would be remiss if I didn't note that Aldridge looked dominant when he got the ball... which was rare. However, Felton hit a few shots late, and the Blazers led by 6 after three.
Four quick points gave the Blazers their first double-digit lead to start the fourth. Finally, the Blazers found some adrenaline, and their defense picked up. Nonetheless, the Wiz pulled within 3 with under 8 minutes left. However, Crawford promptly hit a three-pointer to stop the run, followed up an Aldridge up-and-under. The Wiz aren't a strong-willed team, and this was the stretch that broke their back. Raymond Felton caught fire, and the Blazers pushed the lead to 13. Within seconds, Washington cut the lead to 8, but Crawford finished them off with a key three-pointer.
Check out the box score, and stay tuned for Dave's recap later. The next game is Tuesday, an early game in Indiana. As always, the usual GDT rules apply here in the postgame thread. -- Tim