Trail Blazers-Wizards Preview


The Portland Trail Blazers have put together some poor efforts on the road this season and their last game was no exception.

They didn't play much better at home against their next opponent.

The Blazers continue a seven-game road trip Saturday night, when they try to avoid a season series sweep at the hands of the lowly Washington Wizards.

Portland's road record has dropped to 5-14 after four consecutive losses away from home, including the first two games of a season-high seven-game trip.

The Blazers (19-21) fell 104-86 at Boston on Friday in a game that wasn't as close as the score would indicate. They trailed by as many as 43 points, allowed the Celtics to shoot 60.0 percent in the first half and had a season-high 28 turnovers, leading to 30 Boston points.

"That was an unprofessional approach," coach Nate McMillan said. "There was no basketball being played out there tonight. We can play harder than that. We can play better than that."

LaMarcus Aldridge scored 22 points and shot 8 of 11, but no other Portland starter scored in double figures. Gerald Wallace finished with two points on 1-of-7 shooting while Nicolas Batum, who is averaging 14.1 points, had nine for a second straight game.

The Blazers, who sit two games behind Houston for the final playoff spot in the West with two teams to leapfrog, have lost five of six overall. The road trip gets more difficult after Saturday, with visits to Indiana, New York, Chicago and Oklahoma City - all clubs that currently hold playoff spots.

Slow starts have been a big problem during the road skid. Opponents have averaged 60.0 points in the first halves of Portland's last four road games and the Blazers have trailed by an average of 20.3 points.

"We have to stop talking and act like a man - have some pride," Batum said. "We are talking too much, we're thinking too much. We have to just go out and play.''

While a meeting with Washington (9-29), which has the third-worst record in the NBA, would seem like a good way to bounce back, Portland lost 124-109 at home to the Wizards on Feb. 14 - one of three road wins for Washington all season.

Washington shot 60.0 percent and had a 43-31 rebounding edge in that contest as it took advantage of the loss of Aldridge, who left less than two minutes into the game with an ankle injury.

Nick Young, who scored 35 points for the Wizards in that win, has averaged 22.0 points in his last two games after putting up 8.8 over the previous four.

Washington has won two of three, rallying from a 21-point deficit to defeat the Los Angeles Lakers 106-101 on Wednesday.

Six Wizards scored in double figures, led by 18 points and 17 rebounds from Trevor Booker and a career-high 14 points from Kevin Seraphin.

Washington was coming off a 120-100 loss to Golden State on Monday in which it gave up 41 points in the first quarter.

"What a difference a day makes," coach Randy Wittman said. "These are the kinds of things we've been talking about with this team. Start to finish, even when we got down 21, we were doing the right things."

The Wizards have a chance to win consecutive games for just the second time this season. They won 98-77 at Detroit two days before last month's victory at Portland.