- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 26, 2008

PORTLAND, Ore. — Any momentum the Washington Wizards had from their recent run of six wins in seven games fizzled sometime during Monday’s eight-hour flight west.

The Wizards came out cold, shooting just 20 percent in the first four minutes, and never recovered in a 102-82 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers that started off an important five-game road trip.

The Trail Blazers shot 49.4 percent from the field compared to the Wizards’ 35.8 percent. They also outdid their visitors in rebounding (55-36), assists (28-19) and fastbreak points (16-7).

Four Portland players scored in double digits, with Martell Webster leading the way with 23 points, including four 3-pointers. Travis Outlaw added 20, Jarrett Jack had 17 and Channing Frye chipped in with 10 points. Center Joel Przybilla owned the paint, grabbing 17 rebounds to trump Washington’s center tandem of Brendan Haywood and Andray Blatche, who combined for nine boards.

Forward Caron Butler led Washington with 19 points, while point guard Antonio Daniels added 14. Forward Antawn Jamison had one of his worst nights of the season, making just three of 13 attempts to finish with nine points.

Well, it was the score of one team that could shoot straight, one team that couldn’t. One team that could rebound and one team that couldn’t, a haggard-looking Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said. I thought their small lineup speed really hurt us in transition. They made shots. Like I said, we didn’t. … They’re a good team at home, and we just couldn’t make shots, couldn’t get the juice.

Despite their shooting woes in the first quarter, the Wizards remained in reach of the Trail Blazers, trailing 31-22 heading into the second quarter.

Washington (36-34), which had won three in a row, reeled Portland (38-34) in with a 10-2 run capped by a 3-pointer from Roger Mason Jr. that cut the score to 33-32 with 6:43 left in the first half.

But the Trail Blazers caught fire again, outscoring the Wizards 16-7 in a three-minute span to go up 49-39.

Jack then capped Portland’s torrid first-half performance by scoring seven straight points to put his team up 59-43 at the break.

Portland shot a blistering 62 percent from the field and built the big lead despite the absence of leading scorer Brandon Roy, who left the game midway through the second quarter with a strained groin.

Portland , which also was without the services of second-leading scorer LaMarcus Aldridge, who missed the game with a knee injury, ended any chance of a comeback in the first five minutes of the third quarter, going on an 11-5 spurt that translated into a 70-48 lead and forced a Washington timeout.

Seemed like every they were shooting up would fall, Wizards guard DeShawn Stevenson said. Webster had a great game. … You’ve got to give them the credit for coming out and putting the pressure on us. They came out and gave us a knockout punch.

With 4:04 left in the third and his team down 75-55, Jordan called a timeout and went with a smaller, quicker lineup of Jamison, Butler, Daniels, Stevenson and Nick Young. But the move made only a moderate difference, and the Blazers led 82-66 heading into the fourth quarter.

So with five minutes left in the game, Jordan pulled his starters to rest them up for tonight’s game in Seattle.

“[Butler and Jamison] were struggling to make shots, and when they can’t make shots, we’re in trouble,” Jordan said. “I wanted to get them out with about 5? [minutes] to go and get some of our other guys some experience. It was one of the few times that I was looking forward to the next day with five to go.”

The Wizards, whose lead over Philadelphia for fifth place in the Eastern Conference dwindled to a half-game, will try to rebound tonight against the SuperSonics at KeyArena. The Sonics had lost 11 straight before defeating the Trail Blazers on Monday night.

We usually play well on the road, said Stevenson, whose Wizards had won their last four road games. We’ve been doing a good job winning games, had a little streak going. Now that we lost, it [stinks], but we’ll go get a win in Seattle.

Notes Gilbert Arenas continues to ready himself for a comeback, possibly as early as next week. The three-time All-Star was on the court during pregame warmups, working on a variety of shots, including pull-up 3-pointers from the top of the arc. …

Young returned to action after missing the last two games with a right thigh contusion. He played only 16 minutes, however, and finished with four points.

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