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Blazers 100, Wizards 98

Why can't we beat Portland?

Wow, that was pretty infuriating.

I figured the loss to Portland in Washington was an anomoly of sorts, and the team would do everything possible to not let that happen again.  I guess I was wrong.

The same problems were all there.  EJ said the one reason he decided to start Andray Blatche was to corral LaMarcus Aldridge.  And what was the result?  Aldridge had 25 and 8, and Blatche played only 11 minutes.  It's kind of hard to stop Aldridge when you're spending most of your time sitting on the bench.

On the other end, Gilbert Arenas was pretty bad once again.  19 points and 10 assists isn't bad, but 4 of 16 from the field is.  I'm willing to chalk this one up to a random bad shooting night, but at the same time, how short did he leave that final shot?  I guess it was too close for him.

Seriously, there's a hell of a lot of blame to go around.  Jamison had 27 and 12, but how do you not step up when Brandon Roy is going right to the basket?  Stevenson had 17, but Roy killed him all night.  Roger Mason was strong off the bench with 10, but the Wizards were -6 when he was in the game.  The Wizards as a team shot far too many threes, instead of penetrating and getting easy twos on the poor Trailblazer interior defense.  

My biggest beef, however, is with EJ, who confused once again with the substitution patterns.  As mentioned earlier, EJ said he liked the idea of using Blatche's length to bother Aldridge, but he then played Blatche only 11 minutes.  Instead, during a key stretch where Portland took over the lead midway through the fourth quarter, the Wizards had a lineup of Arenas, Mason, Darius Songaila, Michael Ruffin, and Antawn Jamison.  Huh?  That doesn't really make sense ever, but it especially doesn't make sense in the fourth quarter.  

One thing I continually stress is that you can lose a game at any time, and you can't keep relying on winning close games.  Right there, with that strange lineup, Eddie lost the Wizards the game.  Those five should never be on the floor together, and it was a main reason the Wizards were once again unable to close out a game they lead most of the way.  

Andohbytheway, get ready for some more strange lineups when it matters most.  

"There were 24 minutes when we played hard and played together and then there were 24 minutes when we didn't play the right way, didn't protect the rim and didn't play good defense," Jordan said. "I'm going to find the guys who will play for 48 minutes the right way. And if I've got to sit some people, I'm going to sit some people but I'm looking for the right mix. This is the time to play with each other, to play good solid basketball. Protect the rim, rebound, execute and share the basketball. And I'm going to find the guys to do it."

Riiight.  Because now is the best time to change your personnel, when you're making your playoff push.  Hate to say it Eddie, but this is stuff you should have made clear a long time ago.  Changing things up now will just lead to more inconsistent play.