The script has become all too familiar: the Blazers lost to a subpar team tonight after their offense came to a complete halt in the second half.
But this has gotten so bad, no one in Hollywood would believe it’s true. Ugh.
You see, in Hollywood, the return of Joel Przybilla would’ve fired the Blazers enough to scrape out a win—not lose their sixth straight.
So, instead, you wanna see what a complete offensive halt looks like? How about a second half with 33 points (10 in the third quarter), 9-44 from the floor, five assists, five trips to the free throw line (none in the third quarter)?. Throw in zero made field goals from 8:07 until a tip-in with 1:16 in the fourth quarter and you’ve got yourself a total offensive meltdown.
The final score was 79-84. Indeed, the Wizards won too easily. The made Portland look feeble down the stretch.
These are the Wizards we’re talking about. A team who are 24th in the league in defensive efficiency, 27th in opponent FG% at 47.9%, and 26th in the league in points allowed at 106.1.
Anyone who didn’t watch the game will say that the Wizards played stellar defense in the second half. When a team goes from shooting 45.5% in the first half to ending the game shooting 33.3%, sure, I guess you can go ahead and call it tough defense by the home team.
But the stats won’t show that with 2:15 to go in the game Portland missed five shots in 12 seconds, three of them put-back layups. And, a minute and a half later the team missed four shots (two layups) in a 14 second stretch. It was absolutely brutal to watch.
Allowing an opponent five offensive rebounds in one possession, and four more just minutes later, is not the hallmark of a lock-down defensive effort. Portland was either exhausted or simply lost their focus on offense.
Coach Nate McMillan went 11-deep tonight, with Brandon Roy playing a team high 38 minutes (second highest was Aldridge with 32). Fatigue didn’t seem to be the problem down the stretch. The Blazers played without either focus or a sense of urgency in the second half, often letting the clock run into the single-digits before getting a shot off, or taking a contested shot too early in the clock. The team was out of sync, missing each other on the pass, turning the ball over 13 times in the half.
While offense was clearly an issue tonight in the second half, the Blazers didn’t get the job done on the defensive end of the floor either.
After leading by 12 going into the half, Washington went on a 13-2 run starting at 5:30 left in the third quarter, ending the quarter up one and erasing their 12-point deficit. While Portland was able to keep Washington to only 35 points in the first half, they managed to put up 49 in the second.
Give Washington credit for stepping on the gas when Portland’s defense let up in the second half and relentlessly getting to the free throw line, scoring 21-26 from the stripe.
Gilbert Arenas came off the bench to score 15 points in 30 minutes, adding six assists. Andray Blatche added 17 in 40 minutes, and five players scored in double digits for Washington. John Wall, however, had a disappointing night scoring 12 points on 14 shots, committed four turn overs, and only assisted on two shots.
Saying a team beat themselves feels as hollow as calling Wednesday’s game a moral victory, but it’s hard to frame it another way: on a night where their opponent shot 41.7 and missed 10 three-pointers, Portland couldn’t keep it together to get the win. I guess having Andre Miller be the only guy to get to the line until Aldridge draws a foul with 1:45 left in the game isn’t a winning strategy.
While the night ended on a (very) sour note with another loss to a subpar team, there were some bright spots and things to build on:
- Joel Pryzbilla played 20 minutes tonight for the first time in a year and looked solid. Pryzbilla did all of the things you want to see from him: made hard fouls, took two charges, set tough screens, collected seven rebounds, and with a few exceptions didn’t miss his defensive assignments. It was a welcome sight to see him on the court for Portland tonight.
- Patty Mills had a killer first half. He has averaged under four minutes per game this season, but gave the Blazers 18 solid minutes backing up Andre Miller: five points, five assists, three steals and +7 in seven minutes on the floor in the first half. Clearly a tiny sample size, but something Blazer fans have been hoping to see from Pat Stacks this year.
- The bench came out in the second quarter with the energy on both ends of the floor the starters lacked tonight. The group played well together, making hustle plays on defense and playing well as a unit on offense.
- I wouldn’t say Roy played a great game tonight—he got burned on defense too many times, didn’t get to the line once, and missed nine of his outside shots—but he was able to score up and over his defender several times on the perimeter. While Kirk Hinrich isn’t a top perimeter defender in this league, Brandon was still able to put up good numbers and get into the paint a half dozen times tonight. He also sacrificed his body on the defensive end, drawing a crucial charge halfway through the fourth. Definitely good signs for a guy whose knee has kept him out three games already this season.
So where do the Blazers go from here? Do fans keep their hopes up that this is just a rough patch, and that the return of Pryzbilla will help turn this losing streak around? Is it time to blow things up?
Since Roy arrived in 2006 I haven’t seen the Blazers walk onto the court and look so accepting of defeat. Sure, they played a good first half, but it didn’t feel like it was the Blazers created all of Washington’s 14 turnovers, more so that the Wizards just couldn’t get it together in the first half.
I’m not sure where they lost it, but Portland needs to get their grit back before they fall even farther below .500