There is very little to be said about a game like this. The Wizards had a 14 point lead early on in the game and scored 55 points in the first half. The Wizards were held, though, to just 41 points in the second half while the Blazers scored 60 and pulled out a tough victory.
The Blazers remained perfect from the free throw line and hit 18 straight as they handed Washington their first loss on their four game Western Conference road trip. The Wizards held the Blazers to 39% shooting in the first half and the Blazers only shot 40% on the game, but chances at the line, three point makes and offensive rebounds got the Blazers a win.
Here are the three things we've learned from this heart breaker.
It's not like we didn't already know, but....
The Wizards' offense needs a makeover. Though Portland got to 103 points tonight, the Blazers didn't play their best particular game offensively. The Wizards ended the third quarter just scoring four points in the final six minutes. That can't happen. That is unacceptable on the NBA level and you can't win games that way.
Defense wins championships, but the last four NBA champions were boasting top 10 offenses in terms of efficiency. You've got to be able to score with the ball in this league to hang around. The Blazers deserve credit for holding the Wizards to just 15 points in a quarter, but the Wizards have done this far too often this season. They had a 14 point lead and had a chance to step on the Blazers' throats but they blew it.
The fourth wing spot needs work and so does the bench
Washington's bench only came up with 17 points tonight. While points aren't the only aspect of the game that matters, the Wizards' bench has never been able to defend this season. While their offense has steadily declined because of Rasual Butler's cool-down, the defense has consistently gotten worse. Portland opened up the 2nd quarter with a 14-7 run with Wittman's five man bench unit in.
Martell Webster and Otto Porter have both proven to be unproductive so far this season. Webster, while having just returned from surgery a few weeks ago, has been borderline unplayable at times but got minutes in the fourth quarter of the game tonight. Porter has only played double digit minutes in two blowout games--a loss against Brooklyn and a win against Philadelphia.
There's no easy fix here, but if the Wizards are looking to make a deal with the trade deadline looming, this is probably the spot they should take a look at instead of finding an extra ball handler or even another big man. Maybe their pursuit of Ray Allen is warranted.
Marcin Gortat's slump is hurting Wizards
The Wizards need to find more to do with Marcin Gortat to get him out of the slump he's in. Gortat proved to be relatively ineffective tonight, but he also is not receiving the ball in spots that are advantageous. Gortat is a great running big, and John Wall makes sure to push the rock up to him when he finds himself at the rim with a big man on his back, but those are some hard passes to catch and should not be the best looks Gortat gets all night.
The Wizards are not including Gortat in pick and roll plays enough and that is what he is best at. Having him post up and shoot 12 foot jumpers is fine, but doing it extensively has proved to be inefficient. Gortat has scored over 14 points just four times in the last 20 games and has been benched in the fourth quarter on multiple occasions. Having a rolling big with shooters around is a mainstay in today's NBA, but it is not really a focus of the Wizards' offense. Maybe it should be going forward.
Side note: Paul Pierce has become the fourth player in NBA history to make 2,000 threes in his career. Congrats to The Truth. Here's another fun fact: Pierce has played with Allen and Terry--two of the other members of the illustrious 2,000 makes club. Had Reggie Miller come out of retirement and played for Boston, he'd have played with all three of them. Funny how history writes itself at times.