23 March 2011
In December, the Washington Wizards defeated the Portland Trail Blazers, 76-74. They scored 76 points again against Portland but this time they fell by 35 points. It was a resounding win the Blazers needed with the 57-win San Antonio Spurs on deck.
Blazers get off to strong start, but Wizards keep pace
The Wizards hung close early in the first quarter behind the play of rookies Kevin Seraphin and John Wall, and were only down six after one high-scoring quarter. Nonetheless, Portland had set the tone and had the looks of a vastly superior team.
LaMarcus Aldridge was in a groove from the start. He was very aggressive inside, which has been his forte this season, as he made all eight of his free-throws in the quarter and tallied 14 points.
He wasn’t the only one contributing for Portland, as Nicolas Batum asserted himself offensively while also excelling at the intangibles by grabbing five rebounds and compiling two assists and a steal.
Gerald Wallace’s energy helps Portland pull away
Wallace was the spark the Blazers needed to turn an uneasy lead into a comfortable one. The Wizards entered with just one road win on the season, and Wallace did his part to make sure they would record their 33rd loss away from home. His energy in the second quarter was outstanding.
He was all over the offensive glass, in passing lanes, and seemingly in on every positive play for the Blazers. He had 11 points, two steals, and three rebounds in the quarter.
“Wallace did a good job crashing the boards and diving to the basket,” head coach Nate McMillan said postgame.
Javale McGee swat of Wesley Matthews the best block in a long time
Not much went right for the Wizards in the second quarter, as Washington trailed by 17 at halftime, but McGee’s rejection of Matthews dunk attempt with just under five minutes remaining was absolutely mind-boggling.
Wesley drove into the paint from the right side of the court and challenged the lanky center. McGee, who has games of seven and twelve blocks this season, not only turned away Matthews but met him at his peak and ripped the ball out of his hands, as if he was tearing down a rebound.
“Unbelievable,” McMillan said when asked about the block. “He is a high-wire act.”
Wallace dominates third quarter as Blazers overwhelm Wizards
That block created a great deal of buzz, and rightfully so, but Portland made sure it didn't ignite a Wizards resurgence. Wallace was behind extending the lead, accomplishing what he did in the second quarter but on a greater scale.
He was diving for loose balls, rejecting shots into the second row, driving for layups, and relentlessly remained around the basket for rebounds.
Wallace’s overall performance was his best as a Blazer, scoring 28 points on 10-14 shooting to go along with eight rebounds, including five offensive, three assists, four steals, and a block.
Chris Johnson proves his worth
The seldom-used forward played the entire fourth quarter with the game well in hand and made a considerable impact. In his 16 minutes he was active as can be, playing with the energy of Wallace before him. He had seven points, three rebounds, and three emphatic blocks, driving on offense and defending the basket on defense.
With this performance he showed why Portland not only signed him for this season but for next as well.
The Spurs are next, and the Blazers are ready
With the relatively easy 111-76 win behind them, Portland now prepares to face the Spurs, a team they beat in early February by 11 points at home. There will be no Tim Duncan for San Antonio, but the West’s best will be tough nonetheless.
Nicolas Batum, who had his first 20-plus point, 10-plus rebound game against Washington, said postgame, “We beat them a couple of weeks ago. We’d like to do it again.”
photo: bruce ely/the oregonian
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