PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The Washington Wizards are turning into road warriors.
“It just felt good getting those 3s knocked down.” Young said. “We were all jelling off each other. I feel like we are turning into a good team.”
Nicolas Batum tied a career high with 33 points for the Blazers (15-14), who lost All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge to an ankle injury early in the game. Gerald Wallace had 25 points and eight assists, and Marcus Camby added 13 points and 12 rebounds.
Aldridge was hurt less than two minutes into the game when he landed on Trevor Booker’s foot, let out a cry and fell to the ground holding his ankle. The power forward was helped off the court and did not return, although the team reported that X-rays were negative.
“I think when he went down, the life went out of us,” Camby said. “It’s sad but true.”
The Wizards (7-22) were coming off an electrifying comeback win over Detroit in which they had a 39-10 second-half run.
“It shows that we can definitely compete with anybody,” Crawford said. “We just have to do it tonight.”
Portland had lost its last two at the Rose Garden after starting the season 11-1 at home. The Blazers had a demoralizing 97-94 double-overtime loss to Dallas Saturday that led to widespread criticism of Portland’s starting guards, Wesley Matthews and Raymond Felton, who combined for 16 points on 7-of-27 shooting.
One day after icily defending his rotation to the media, Portland coach Nate McMillan started Batum in place of Felton. The 6-foot-9 Batum responded quickly, scoring 11 points in the first quarter.
However, Portland looked deflated after losing Aldridge. The Wizards dominated the boards and Young, Wall and Crawford punished a sagging Blazer defense both from outside and with dribble penetration. The Wizards 58-46 at the half.
“There was no defense,” McMillan said. “We didn’t control the ball at all tonight.”
The Blazers put together two small runs but never seriously contested the lead. Portland cut the lead to seven but the Wizards made nine straight shots, with Young hitting back to back 3-pointers and Wall going coast-to-coast to put Wizards up 78-63 with 6:55 left in the third.
NOTES: Portland last lost three in a row at home between March 29 and April 6, 2008. … McGee had his 10th double-double of the season with 18 points and 11 rebounds for Washington. … The Wizards are 5-7 under coach Randy Wittman, who replaced Flip Saunders after a 2-15 start.
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