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News » Wizards-Trail Blazers Preview

Wizards-Trail Blazers Preview

Wizards-Trail Blazers Preview
The Portland Trail Blazers struggled through one of their worst shooting performances of the season in their last game, but still managed to stay close in a loss to one of the NBA's best teams.

Unsurprisingly, the Washington Wizards were less competitive against another title contender.

In a matchup between teams coming off losses to elite opponents, the Blazers look to bounce back as they host the Wizards, losers of eight of their last 10.

Portland (25-17) shot 40.7 percent from the field but committed only seven turnovers and outscored Cleveland 25-11 at the free-throw line to stay close in a 104-98 home loss to the Central Division-leading Cavaliers on Wednesday night.

The Blazers' third loss in five games was disappointing, but the club takes some solace in its ability to remain competitive.

"We just waited too long to get going. Maybe we were in awe of LeBron (James). I'm not sure what it was," center Joel Przybilla said. "We need to believe we're one of the best teams in the league and we can play with anybody."

The Wizards (9-33) are naturally less optimistic about their abilities to compete with the NBA's top talent. Though Washington was able to defeat Cleveland on Jan. 4, it's lost eight of 10 games since then, including an uninspired 117-97 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night.

"They broke us down and beat us up," said Wizards coach Ed Tapscott, whose team trailed by as much as 36. "They play the game at a very high level and they sustain that level. We had some decent moments, but we had far too many bad moments tonight."

Washington is giving up 112.0 points per game over its last five, and has allowed three opponents to shoot better than 53.0 percent from the field in that stretch.

That bodes well for Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland's top offensive options. Roy scored 23 points Wednesday and Aldridge added 21, but they shot 8-for-23 and 8-for-20, respectively.

"Brandon just had a lot of shots he usually makes not fall and Aldridge had some shots in the second he usually knocks down," Blazers coach Nate McMillan said. "We needed a third guy to step up in situations like that but we didn't have that tonight."

Portland is 2-3 since losing point guard Steve Blake to a separated right shoulder, including its loss to Philadelphia last Wednesday - the game in which Blake suffered the injury.

"This is a game in which Steve Blake may have helped us make a difference," McMillan said Wednesday, "but we don't have him and we have to learn to play with the players we have."

That could be easier against the Wizards, who have lost five of their last six against the Blazers and three straight at the Rose Garden. Roy was limited to 11.0 points per game in his first four career games against Washington before leading Portland with 22 in a 98-92 road victory Dec. 3.

Wizards forward Antawn Jamison, averaging 23.7 points and shooting 57.1 percent over his last six games, had 22 points on 10-for-17 shooting in his first meeting with the Blazers.

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: January 24, 2009


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