Tuesday, February 04, 2014
Sports News

Wizards climb over .500 by beating Blazers

Send a link to a friend 

[February 04, 2014]  WASHINGTON — John Wall tried playing it cool. Eventually, the newly minted All-Star copped to a sense of relief. On the eighth try this season, the point guard and all of the Washington Wizards could finally exhale and breathe the air of a winning team.

Wall scored 22 points and forward Trevor Ariza added 20 as the Wizards moved above .500 for the first time since 2009 with a 100-90 win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday night.

The Wizards last owned a winning record when they were 2-1 on Oct. 31, 2009. They had not been over .500 in February since 2008.

"It's only one game over, but it's a big relief," said Wall, who until Monday had never played on a team with a winning record since entering the league in 2010.

Reserve center Kevin Seraphin scored a season-high 19 points for the Wizards, who committed a season-low six turnovers and led the entire second half. Washington (24-23) won for the fourth time in six games, with all the victories coming against Western Conference opponents.

The matchup with the Blazers marked Washington's eighth opportunity to post a winning record and fifth since Jan. 18. Over their previous nine games, the Wizards had repeated a pattern: win to reach .500, lose the next game to drop back.

The Wizards, fifth in the Eastern Conference, snapped the Oklahoma City Thunder's 10-game winning streak on Saturday.

Constant questions about the inability to cross over into winning territory were also part of the recent pattern. The Wizards had little interest in discussing the record situation over the last couple of weeks.

"The main thing is we've got bigger goals to try and keep winning games and try to keep getting better — and try not to go back [under .500] so we don't have to have this talk again," Wall said.

Guard Damian Lillard scored 25 points for the Trail Blazers (34-14), while forward LaMarcus Aldridge had 20 points, 10 rebounds and six assists.

Forward Nicolas Batum added 18 points, but he had five of Portland's 16 turnovers before a crowd of 13,259.

"We aren't a team that forces a lot of turnovers to begin with, but if they are only going to have six turnovers, then we can't turn it over as many times as we did," Lillard said.

Portland is 15-9 on the road, but has dropped four straight. The Blazers lost for the third time in four games overall and for the third consecutive time to Washington.

"It's always a concern when you lose games," Aldridge said, "It's definitely a concern for us."

[to top of second column]

Seraphin scored the final eight points of a 12-0, second-half run that gave Washington its largest lead, 86-69, with 11:08 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Aldridge's layup with 1:12 remaining cut the margin to 96-90, but the Blazers would get no closer. Wizards forward Nene (13 points) countered with a jumper on the next possession.

The Blazers shot a scorching 61 percent in the first half, but they ended the game at 45.7 percent, and they finished 5-of-19 on 3-point attempts.

Wall's coach preferred focusing on the team's defense rather than give any more attention to the over-.500 talk.

"I don't worry about that," Randy Wittman said. "We were flying all over the place the last couple of minutes of the game. To hold them to 35 [points] in the second half, big accomplishment by our guys."

The Trail Blazers shot at least 60 percent from the field in each of the first two quarters, yet they still trailed at the end of both periods.

Washington entered the second quarter up 32-29, then fell behind as the Blazers made nine consecutive field-goal attempts, including four from Aldridge. The Western Conference All-Star's jumper gave Portland a 55-47 lead with 2:23 remaining.

That would be the Blazers' final points of the half. Washington scored the final eight points before the break, including six from Wall for a 56-55 halftime lead.

Ariza hit four 3-pointers in the game, including one opening the third quarter to extend the spurt.

NOTES: Wizards F Trevor Booker was not with the team for personal reasons. ...Wizards G John Wall, named to his first All-Star team last week, C Kevin Seraphin and Booker are the team's longest tenured players, having joined Washington in 2010.... The Trail Blazers have used the same starting lineup in all 48 games this season. ...The teams wrap up the season series in Portland on March 20. ... The Trail Blazers next play on the road against the New York Knicks on Wednesday, the same day Washington continues its five-game homestand against the San Antonio Spurs.

[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

< Sports index

Back to top