Wizards

Takeaways from Wizards' 21-point come back over Blazers in OT

Wizards

The offensive hot streak continued, and the absentee defense that plagued the Wizards for this road trip evaporated in second half as they erased a 21-point deficit to pull out a 125-124 overtime win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday at Moda Center.

It was their second win in a row in the extra session after beating the Sacramento Kings 130-122 on Friday.

The Wizards (41-24) got it together late and used a 22-6 run to cut a 70-49 halftime deficit to single digits, took the lead after John Wall buried a couple of three-pointers and then Bradley Beal made a three. They won both games of a back-to-back for the fifth time in a row and are 4-0 on this West trip with their final game Monday at the Minnesota Timberwolves.

They've almost matched their win total from a year ago when they went 41-41 and are now 15-15 on the road. 

Wall (39 points, nine assists) led Washington while Beal (26 points, six assists), Marcin Gortat (15 points, 15 rebounds), Otto Porter (18 points, 10 rebounds) and Markieff Morris (13 points, 11 rebounds) rounded out the starters.

The Blazers rode the hot hand of C.J. McCollum (team-high 34 points) and Damian Lillard (33 points, seven assists). Mo Harkless (15 points) and Allen Crabbe (14 points, six rebounds).

The Wizards cut the deficit to 98-97 but went cold. Morris short an airball on a post up of Al-Farouq Aminu (11 points) and then turned it over on another post up. But the biggest play came when Beal jumped a handoff from Jusuf Nurkic to McCollum and had a layup.

 

He missed and it led to a three-pointer for Lillard for a 106-97 lead. That’s when Wall and Beal took over and led 112-106.

Portland, however, tied the score at 112 with a pair of foul shots from Nurkic that followed a four-point play. Morris was called for a defensive three seconds which led to a technical foul shot and Aminu made a three-pointer to set up the finish in regulation.

Both teams traded shots in overtime. Lillard scored nine of Portland's 12 points, but with 16 seconds remaining and the Blazers up 124-123, Wall blocked Lillard's shot. Brooks called timeout after his team looked confused with six seconds left.

After Porter inbounded the ball to Beal off a curl around staggered screens, he drove into the lane, drew three defenders and found an open Morris in the corner. Morris pump-faked, put the ball on the floor and knocked down a mid-range jumper that proved the game-winner. Portland protested that Morris stepped out of bounds before the shot, which postgame replay confirmed, but referees ruled it was not reviewable. 

– The more aggressive team on the defensive end made the runs. The Blazers, who really aren’t that good on defense, had been allowing 112.7 points per game since the All-Star break. They were physical in the first half when they gained their lead, but when the Wizards made their second-half run they flipped the script. The multiple efforts by Wall and Beal sparked a unit that had more active hands and did a better job contesting shots and blowing up dribble handoffs. 

– The coverage on flare screens was inadequate in the first half. The Wizards got out to an 11-4 lead but seemed unprepared or unaware of how the Blazers prefer to use their shooters. McCollum would come from the corner on the strong side of the floor, loop to the weakside and get a flare screen from a post player. His three-point looks were mostly clean as the trailer was a step late and help from the big stepping over wasn’t there. It’s how McCollum scored 25 of his points in the first half on 9 of 12 shooting, including 4 of 5 from three.

– Coach Scott Brooks said he doesn’t believe in taking games off or holding out players for no reason. “I don’t. Not at all,” Brooks said about having his stars take games off. “We all have 82 games to play and coach and you have to do your best each game. You can’t give into the schedule. You can’t give into the back-to-backs, four in five nights in four different cities. … My job is to adjust the minutes and make sure everybody is as fresh as they can.” Wall played 40 minutes but Beal, who played 42 vs. Sacramento, was kept to 33.

– McCollum only had 12 points in the first meeting, a 120-101 loss to the Wizards in January. But McCollum was held to 0-for-3 shooting in the fourth quarter and Lillard 3-for-8 when the Wizards made their run. Overall, the Blazers shot 7-for-21 while the Wizards were 11-for-22.

 

– Wall was forced to score more as the Blazers committed to taking Beal away and Porter couldn’t knock down open looks from the short cornter. He shot 23 times, making 13 of them, but it took him away from his primary role as a facilitator. It's why despite Wall's activity he only had two assists in the first half when they trailed. When the Wizards got back into the game, they found space for Beal and he alternated with Wall to keep the Blazers off-balance.

– Brandon Jennings (1-for-4 shooting) still hasn’t found his footing offensively. With a chance to knock down an open three as he went uncovered, he shot an airball with 30.8 seconds left. Lillard took it the other way for a layup and a 93-82 lead. Then early in the fourth, the Blazers allowed Jennings into the paint without a contest and he short-armed a floater. Even though the bench has been upgraded, it only contributed 14 points. Bojan Bogdanovic (11 points) made 2 of 4 threes, both of his makes coming in the fourth during the comeback.

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