Trail Blazers 94, Wizards 83
WASHINGTON (AP)—Three technical fouls are easier to take when a team shoots 65 percent in the first half.
“In a close game, three technical fouls could come down to hurt you,” Portland coach Maurice Cheeks said. “We can’t afford to have technical fouls on the road.”
Dale Davis said something to an official after picking up three quick fouls. Ruben Patterson threw a ball at Steve Blake. Rasheed Wallace made an animated gesture, with perhaps a word or two added in, after a big basket.
But those three antics didn’t stunt Portland’s performance at all. Stoudamire hit six 3-pointers, accounting for all 18 of his points, and added a season-high 11 assists. Wallace and Zach Randolph added 16 points apiece. Darius Miles scored 10 points, all in the first half, in his second game—and first start—since being traded from Cleveland last week.
Portland also played as a team, getting 30 assists on its 38 field goals, to start a three-game road trip by winning for only the second time in eight games.
“The focus was on not just trying to score by yourself, but by putting the ball in the post,” Cheeks said. “And we got a lot of balls thrown out of the post to score the basketball. That’s where our game opened up. That’s what made us.”
Juan Dixon, starting because of an injury to Larry Hughes, scored a career-high 30 points for the Wizards and singlehandedly tried to bring his team back in the second half. He scored 18 of 20 Washington points to help cut an 18-point third-quarter deficit to three with 4:30 remaining.
But the Wizards made only one basket the rest of the game. Dixon and Jarvis Hayes missed jumpers, Brendan Haywood missed one of two free throws, and Blake missed a layup. Derek Anderson’s 3-pointer from right wing with 1:47 to play steadied the Trail Blazers by pushing the lead back to seven.
“It’s so tough getting down that many points and having to scramble and work double-time to get back into the game,” said Kwame Brown, who had 11 points, 10 rebounds and a tied a career-high with five assists for the Wizards. “Fortunately, we did that, but we just didn’t have enough fire power to get over the hump.”
The Wizards, who had won three straight at home, played without leading scorer Hughes, who has been troubled with tendinitis in his right knee and could miss more games during the current homestand. Washington is already missing guards Jerry Stackhouse and Gilbert Arenas, leaving Brevin Knight and Dixon to start Monday,
“There’s no question,” Washington coach Eddie Jordan said. “I would be a better coach with Gilbert and Stack and Larry on the floor.”
The Trail Blazers made 10 of their first 11 shots—and were just getting warmed up. Miles started the scoring with a three-point play and a layup, and 76-percent first-quarter shooting built a 31-26 lead.
Stoudamire, 6-of-8 from 3-point range, made all three of his long-range attempts in the second quarter. He had 12 points and 10 assists in the first half, and Portland led 57-41 at the break.
The third quarter regressed into long stretches of run-and-gun streetball, with sloppy ball-handling and missed easy shots. Dixon provided a spark at the end of the quarter, taking the ball inside to score seven straight Wizardspoints to close the deficit to 74-62 going into the fourth.
Jordan said “no comment” before anyone could ask him about the firing Monday of his former boss, New Jersey coach Byron Scott. Jordan was Scott’s assistant for two in New Jersey. Asked how Scott’s firing puts a premium on winning, Jordan said: “That’s the only thing is winning. Even when you win, you should win with class.” … The entire upper bowl was empty as fans decided not to risk traveling through a snow and ice storm that hit thenation’s capital.