The novelty of a breakfast time tipoff was short lived. Clearly failing the blind taste test and guzzling decaf—instead of Stumptown Hair Bender—the Blazers were defeated by the Washington Wizards by a score of 97-92. The MLK matinee game must have felt like a back-to-back for Portland, with the team touching down in D.C. late last night and looking blurry-eyed throughout the game.
There are games without Brandon Roy, and then there are games without Brandon Roy. Friday's Roy-less victory over Orlando was handled with a casual ease by the short-handed Blazers, but Roy's absence today was absolutely stunning and felt for all 48 minutes. As the clock wasted away, the Blazers seemed downright frightened by the concept of closing out a nail-biter without Roy—or Travis Outlaw—on the court to take charge. In the final 90 seconds of a very winnable game, LaMarcus Aldridge, Andre Miller, and Jerryd Bayless couldn't build upon solid individual efforts when it counted the most. It's hard to win a close game when no one particularly wants to shoot the ball—with the exception being Bayless recklessly plowing through traffic and hoping for a whistle to bail him out. Roy was missed terribly today.
Is the Rose Garden three-point line is closer to the rim? That might be the only thing that explains a 34% drop-off in three-point percentage for the Blazers. After draining 52% from beyond the arch against Orlando, the Blazers tumbled back to earth, hitting a mere 18% today. Aldridge had some great moments in notching a 22 point, 15 board (a season-high nine of those were on the offensive end), stat line, but he failed to takeover the game in the clutch. Miller was a ghost in the first half, but he finished with 22 points (20 of which game in the second half) before fouling out, and Bayless tied a career-high with nine assists as well. Martell Webster collected his ninth consecutive double-digit scoring effort, but was just two-for-seven from three-point territory.
Previous to this game, the Wizards had only a pair of wins while netting under 100 points, but a late flurry of Caron Butler scoring pushed them over the top. He finished with 18, while Antawn Jamison put up an impressive 28 to lead all scorers. Here's hoping Portland livens up over the next few games—Philadelphia on Wednesday, Boston on Friday, and finally Detroit on Saturday—since this road trip won't be getting any easier.