Featured Stories

Other Pamplin Media Group sites

Local Weather

Cloudy

44°F

Portland

Cloudy

Humidity: 85%

Wind: 6 mph

  • 27 Dec 2014

    Showers 46°F 40°F

  • 28 Dec 2014

    Showers 46°F 36°F


Crawford's prayer extends Blazers' nightmare

There was little doubt overtime was just around the corner as Jordan Crawford took an in-bounds pass and turned to fire up something between desperation and a prayer.

Then something between desperation and prayer actually happened.

The reaction was instantaneous after Washington’s reserve guard launched a fadeaway 3-point rainbow over Wesley Matthews’ outstretched arm that kissed only twine as time expired, giving the Wizards a 98-95 victory over the Trail Blazers Monday night at the Rose Garden.

The Blazer coaches looked on in disbelief. Those in the announced crowd of 17,336 stood in a hushed gloom. The Wizards turned the court into a mob scene, burying a laughing Crawford in celebration.

“That’s kind of like heartbreak,” said Portland’s Damian Lillard, who led a fourth-quarter rally that nearly brought the Blazers to victory. “We fight all the way back to tie it with three seconds left, and the guy hits a buzzer-beater. That’s frustrating, when you’re most likely going to overtime and you lose on a shot like that.”

Crawford’s howitzer was a cruel blow to the Blazers (20-21), who are past the point of being tired about losing close games. It was their season-high sixth straight defeat, all by six points or fewer. Never has that happened in the franchise’s 43-year history.

“When we’re in these situations we’ve been in a lot lately, it’s all the little things through the course of the game that get you to that point,” Portland coach Terry Stotts said. “Crawford hit a hell of a shot. Wes made a good effort to contest it. We made a good effort to tie the game up, but we have to shore up our breakdowns through the game so we aren’t in that position” at the end.

Washington led 87-80 with 5:48 remaining when Lillard spearheaded a rally that got the Blazers back into it. The rookie point guard’s ferocious driving dunk brought them to within 91-90 with 2:22 to play.

The Wizards scored on back-to-back Portland turnovers to hike the margin to 95-90, but Lillard drove for a layup to trim the advantage to 95-92 with 58.7 seconds to go.

When Matthews knocked down a clutch 3-pointer, the count was tied at 95-95 with 7.9 ticks left.

After a timeout, Portland intentionally fouled with a foul to give, stopping the clock with 3.6 seconds to go. After another timeout, Crawford gunned in the game-winner from well behind the 3-point line.

“I just wanted to get a clean look, make a good play,” said Crawford, who scored all of his 13 points in the fourth quarter. “I knew the shot had a (chance) to go in. I just thank the Lord I made it.”

The official statistical sheet estimated Crawford’s bomb at 31 feet. Stotts thought it was a little short of that.

“Crawford catches it, takes a dribble and shoots a 28-foot jump shot and makes it,” the first-year Portland coach said. “There wasn’t much more we could have done to disrupt it.”

Matthews’ account of the final play: “They set it up with a backscreen by (Trevor) Ariza. I bumped that and chased (Crawford) out to the top of the key. He caught it 4, 5, 6 feet outside the 3-point line. Dribbled in, shot it and made it.”

Matthews’ reaction when the ball went through the hoop?

“Frustrated. Irritated. Tired of losing,” he said. “We shouldn’t be losing, especially at home. Taking nothing away from the (opponents), but we’re better than that.”

It’s the first time Portland has dropped four straight at the Garden since February 2012.

“We have to get back on a winning streak,” said Portland’s Nicolas Batum, who notched his first career triple-double with 12 points, 10 rebounds and a career-high 11 assists. “The way we’ve played, nobody likes that.”

Portland has made a habit of falling behind early, and the Wizards — making 9 of their first 10 shots from the field — jumped in front 19-12.

“We have to get back on track again and not let a team gain confidence in the first minutes of a game,” Batum said. “We did it again tonight. (The Wizards) shot 90 percent the first six minutes. We have to play defense. That’s on us, the starters.”

“We have to stop digging ourselves holes,” Matthews said. “No reason. We play lockdown D in the third and fourth quarters. No reason not to be doing it at the start.”

Washington led 34-31 after one quarter. Portland was on top 51-50 at the half, but the Wizards regained the advantage in the third quarter and led most of the rest of the way.

Now the Blazers are wondering what it will take to win a close game.

“This has been remarkable, to have this many games come down to the last 30 seconds,” Stotts said. “You don’t see stretches like this.

“The one thing that hasn’t wavered is, I like the way our team competes. You can’t take anything away from (the players) on that. The pendulum has swung a little bit in the close games, but that’s part of sports.”

NOTES — The fourth game of Portland’s current five-game homestand is against Indiana Wednesday night. ... Washington (9-30) owns the NBA’s worst record, but has won five of its last seven, including victories over Oklahoma City, Atlanta and Denver. ... Washington won the season series 2-0, sweeping the Blazers for the first time since the 2004-05 season. “They have nine wins — two against us,” Batum fumed. ... Nene and Martell Webster each hit season highs to lead the Wizards with 24 points. ... Nene was on fire early, sinking 8 of 9 shots and scoring 17 points in the game’s first nine minutes. Webster made 8 of 11 shots from the field, including 4 of 6 from 3-point range. In his previous game, Webster was 1 for 7 from the field and scored three points in a loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. “I was disappointed with my performance in Los Angeles,” the former Blazer said. “I wanted to come back and be focused. It didn’t matter what city we were in. I just wanted to have a sense of urgency and be more aware offensively.”

Wizards coach Randy Wittman, on the last-second victory: “The basketball gods usually even everything out. We’ve been on the other end of this so many times this year.” ... Batum’s triple-double was the first by a Blazer in regulation play since Damon Stoudamire did it in April 2005 and just the third triple-double by a Blazer in the Garden. ... Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge (17 points, 12 rebounds) notched his 19th double-double of the season and his ninth in January. ... Portland made 12 of 16 shots in the fourth quarter to finish at .457 for the game. ... Lillard started the game 1 for 11 from the field before finally warming up to hit his final six shots, finishing 7 for 17. He had five assists and three turnovers in 38 minutes. “The one thing about Damian, whether shots are going or not, he stays with it,” Stotts said. “He did that tonight. He is pretty unaffected by the past. He just keeps playing.”

Portland rookie center Meyers Leonard made his return to action after missing the last 11 games with a sprained ankle, collecting six points on 3-for-3 shooting with four rebounds in 12 minutes. Leonard took all of his shots in the first half, draining a 10-foot jump hook on the Blazers’ first possession after he entered the game, then swishing a 17-footer from the top of the key. “His jump hook and jump shot might have been the first time (this season) when he didn’t hesitate,” Stotts said. “That was good to see. He played probably a little bit better than I expected he would.” ... After its 9-for-10 start, Washington shot 30 for 74 (.405) the rest of the way. ... The Wizards entered the game ranked last in the NBA in scoring (90.8) and field-goal percentage (.417). They shot .464 Wednesday night despite prize rookie Bradley Beal going 1 for 7 and star guard John Wall going 2 for 8. ... The last time the Blazers lost six straight was when they dropped seven in a row to close last season.