The Washington Wizards have proven they can field an effective offense, even without Caron Butler. Scoring, however, has been a struggle all season for the Portland Trail Blazers, even with Zach Randolph.
After a strong effort with Butler sidelined, the Wizards will again be without their second-leading scorer Tuesday night when they face a Trail Blazers team that must make do without Randolph.
Washington (36-28) shot a season-best 58.4 percent (52-for-89) in a 125-103 win over New Orleans on Saturday night, and has since taken a one-game lead over Miami in the Southeast Division.
Butler missed the game with a bruised knee, and is expected to miss at least four more. The fifth-year forward is averaging a career-high 19.1 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.1 steals.
The Wizards, who are second in the NBA with 105.2 points per game, can overcome Butler’s absence if they continue to get contributions from everyone. The entire active roster scored by the end of the third quarter.
Gilbert Arenas scored 30 points - including two four-point plays - to lead the Washington. He was fouled while hitting a 3-pointer late in the third quarter and again early in the fourth. He converted the free throw each time, making him the first player to have two four-point plays in the same game since Tracy McGrady did it for Orlando against Memphis on Nov. 12, 2003.
“That’s what I do. I do things like that,” said Arenas, who is third in the NBA with 28.8 points per game. “Right now I’m on top of the charts.”
Andray Blatche started in place of Butler and finished with 10 points and seven rebounds. The second-year forward reached double figures in scoring for just the fourth time in his career.
Antawn Jamison added 21 points for Washington, which is 14-0 when shooting 50 percent or better. The Wizards have won consecutive games following a three-game skid.
Washington, though, was held to a season low in scoring in a 94-73 loss to Portland on Feb. 11. Arenas shot 3-of-15 and finished with nine points as the Wizards made just 38 percent (27-for-71) of their shots from the field.
With Randolph having been granted bereavement leave, Portland will have a tough time staying competitive in this matchup. The team did not disclose details of Randolph’s situation, but said he was expected to rejoin the Blazers during their upcoming road trip.
After playing the Wizards, the Trail Blazers go on the road for four games.
Randolph leads the team with 23.5 points and 10.1 rebounds per game. Portland, which ranks 27th in the NBA with 94.4 points per game, has few scoring threats other than Randolph.
The Trail Blazers shot 40.5 percent from the field in a 95-77 loss to Seattle, their fourth straight defeat. They have been held under 80 points in three of their last nine games.
“It was not good, that’s all,” said Randolph said, who had 16 points.
Portland is in danger of matching its longest losing streak of the season, set from Nov. 25-Dec 3.
Trail Blazers rookie guard Brandon Roy, averaging 15.8 points in 46 games, will be expected to step up. He had just seven points while shooting 2 for 8 in Portland’s last matchup with Washington.