Blazers Bounce Back
WASHINGTON — Damian Lillard joked with coach Terry Stotts that the Portland Trail Blazers should flush the film of an embarrassing loss to the Philadelphia 76ers. Then he sat down and watched it.
What he saw wasn't pretty, and other teammates made sure they didn't forget. When they got onto the court Monday against the Washington Wizards, the Trail Blazers showed it with a 108-98 bounce-back victory to close out their road trip.
"We just really thought about it more, not from a basketball side, just how you approach the game and you've got to respect each team," said Meyers Leonard, who scored 18 points. "Winning three (in a row) and then getting beat by a team that only had four wins — the ability to come back and lock in and not dwell on what had happened is big for us."
Not every problem that surfaced Saturday night in Philadelphia was solved, and Mason Plumlee said a 25-point loss to any team leaves a bad taste. But losing by that much to the NBA's worst team served as something of a wake-up call for the Trail-Blazers.
Against the Wizards, the shots were falling, especially from 3-point range, and there was more attention to detail and less hesitation. The result was a dominant performance from the backcourt of Lillard (16 points) and C.J. McCollum (25) and Portland's fourth win in five games.
"We played with energy from the jump and we competed," said Plumlee, who recorded his 12th double-double of the season and added a career-best seven assists. "Energy, just a mindset defensively, getting stops. I think if you take the second quarter out of it, this was one of our better defensive games on this road trip."
The Blazers' defense took a toll on Eastern Conference player of the week John Wall, who lit up the Boston Celtics for 36 points Saturday. Wall scored just nine points on 4-of-17 shooting.
"I was frustrated," Wall said. "I had some good looks that I had from the last games, and I wasn't making them. It was frustrating to me because I feel like I was letting my team down."
Garrett Temple, who addressed the crowd before the game to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, led Washington with 18 points. Marcin Gortat had 16 points and 10 rebounds.
The Wizards fell victim to two big runs by the Blazers and had one of their own. Portland took a 17-point lead in the second quarter before the Wizards chipped away and took the lead early in the second half.
Then Lillard hit back-to-back 3-pointers and the Blazers went on a 23-1 run to take a stranglehold of the game. It slipped away quickly for the Wizards.
"In the third quarter we reverted back to the first quarter," Wall said.
Celtics forward Jae Crowder said Wizards coach Randy Wittman cursed at him late in the teams' game Saturday. Wittman responded Monday, saying he was trying to warn an official after things got heated between Crowder and Nene.
"I'm standing right next to the official, so if I'm doing something that shouldn't have been done, the official would have noticed that," Wittman said.
Trail Blazers: Lillard hit his 2,000th NBA field goal, one of eight players to reach that mark since he entered the league in 2012-13. ... Even though he was left off USA Basketball's list of 30 finalists for the 2016 Olympics, Plumlee said he hopes to play for the U.S. again at future tournaments. ... Baltimore Orioles pitching prospect Pat Connaughton saw mop-up action in the final minutes.
Wizards: Wall and Bradley Beal were among USA Basketball's 30 finalists for Rio. ... Forward Otto Porter Jr. missed the game with a sore right hip. ... Wittman said forward Kris Humphries, who has been out with a knee injury, won't need surgery.
Trail Blazers: Host Atlanta on Wednesday.
Wizards: Host Miami on Wednesday.