Wizards win, barely hang on vs. Blazers
by Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY Sports
WASHINGTON — Well aware of the Washington Wizards’ 0-12 record headed into Wednesday’s game at the Verizon Center, the Portland Trail Blazers did not want to be the first team to lose to the Wizards this season.
“It’s obvious you don’t want to be the team,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said earlier Wednesday afternoon after the team’s shootaround. “I feel for (Wizards coach) Randy (Wittman) and what they’re going through, but we don’t want to be that team.”
Unfortunately for Stotts and the Blazers, they are that team.
The Wizards squandered a 15-point fourth-quarter lead but managed to defeat Blazers 84-82 and avoided making a run at the then-New Jersey Nets’ NBA record of 18 consecutive losses to start a season, set in 2009-10.
Washington guard Jordan Crawford had a team-high 19 points off the bench, and forward Kevin Seraphin had 10 points and 10 rebounds. Forward Trevor Ariza added 14 points for the Wizards.
The win didn’t come with easy or without a little drama. Washington built a 79-64 lead with 8:53 left in the fourth quarter, its largest lead in the fourth quarter this season. With 3:18 to go in the fourth, it was 79-79, and 0-13 was as realistic a possibility as 1-12.
Crawford’s three-pointer with 2:06 to play gave the Wizards an 82-80 lead, and center Emeka Okafor’s two free throws with 39.1 seconds left made it 84-82.
On one of the biggest defensive possessions of the season for the Wizards, they forced Nicolas Batum into an airball on a three-point attempt and rookie point guard Damian Lillard traveled after he grabbed the offensive rebound with 28.9 seconds left . The Wizards then forced J.J. Hickson into a missed shot.
The Blazers were granted one last shot at a tip-in with 0.2 seconds left after the referees used video review to determine a timeout had been called in time.
It’s a good thing the Wizards won, too. Their upcoming schedule is loaded with quality teams: at the New York Knicks on Friday, at home against Miami on Tuesday, at the Hawks on Dec. 7 and at home against the Golden State Warriors on … [For more on Wizards finally win, barely hanging on vs. Trail Blazers, click here.]