home 2014-15, Blogs, Game Coverage Game Notebook 67, Wizards vs. Blazers – Some Restored Hope

Game Notebook 67, Wizards vs. Blazers – Some Restored Hope

Wizards 105
Blazers 97

March 16, 2015 – Verizon Center, Washington, DC

Wind ’em up, Wiz.

Game Leaders:

[ezcol_1third]WIZARDS[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third][/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third_end]BLAZERS[/ezcol_1third_end][ezcol_1third]Wall (21)[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third]POINTS[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third_end]Aldridge (24)[/ezcol_1third_end][ezcol_1third]Wall (11)[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third]ASSISTS[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third_end]Lillard (9)[/ezcol_1third_end][ezcol_1third]Wall/Gortat (9)[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third]REBOUNDS[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third_end]Batum (15)[/ezcol_1third_end][ezcol_1third]Wall (2)[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third]BLOCKS[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third_end]Aldridge/Batum/Lillard (1)[/ezcol_1third_end][ezcol_1third]Beal (+19)[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third]PLUS/MINUS[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third_end]Leonard (+12)[/ezcol_1third_end]

The night started with cautious optimism. The Wizards were on a three game winning streak, but hadn’t faced a team of Portland’s caliber during that stretch. Could the Wizards really be on a 4-0 run headed into their four game West coast road trip? That felt like a lot to ask, but resisting the hope was futile.

Pregame, Steve Blake looked completely comfortable, which made sense given his DMV history. Damian Lillard looked completely comfortable too, which just made me nervous.

The game started, and the Wizards came out like gangbusters. They were running off everything. Turnovers, misses, makes, displaying the kind of energy and confidence that makes you believe this team is capable of anything.

The Wizards led 27-20 after one, courtesy of this John Wall “screw holding for the last shot” layup. Only seven offensive rebounds kept the Blazers close.

Then the second quarter happened…oh, that second quarter! Sheer bliss engulfed the Phone Booth as highlight after highlight came from the most unlikely of sources.

First “The Messenger” provided this absolute facial revelation:

Then, Drew Gooden turned into the stretch four that usually causes the Wizards to quiver in fear.

Wiztopia. The Wizards finished the first half shooting 57%, 4/6 from three, and committing only two turnovers. They held the Blazers to 35% shooting, and 2/13 from three. The result? A 60-40 half time lead.

The third quarter looked like it would be more of the same, after Nene obliterated the rim with this ridiculous catch and finish in transition.

But in #SoWizards fashion, they let Portland make a game of it. The Blazers shot 5/7 from three in the third, and suddenly one of the best double digit comeback teams in the league trailed by just seven heading into the fourth.

The fourth felt like a game in late April. Every basket felt like a huge basket, even with plenty of time remaining. The lead shrunk and grew, ebbed and flowed. It felt like every Wizards came up clutch, but none more than Bradley Beal. Jumper after jumper fell through, with great passes mixed in, to the tune of 23 points and 7 assists, and his best game we’ve seen in a while. With just 3 minutes remaining the Wizards held a 6 point lead at 96-90.

And for once, for what felt like the first time ever, things went the Wizards way.

This Wall block (goaltend? Who cares!) …

..led to this Truth stroke from three…

99-90. Portland still fought back. But as bad as Portland may have wanted it, this play from John Wall made it clear no one wanted it tonight more than him:

Still, behind ridiculous turn around 20 footers from LaMarcus Aldridge (24 and 10), Portland didn’t fold. Finally John Wall felted them with this:

His final touches on a 21-11-9 masterpiece.

Wizards win.

Now comes the hard part. After four straight wins, the Wizards finally again look like the team we all envision, and hit glimpses of early in the season. But three of these four wins were at home.

Wednesday marks the start of a four-game west coast road trip that will tell us a lot about the Wizards and their true playoff pedigree.

Contenders or pretenders? Tonight we saw the makings of an Eastern Conference contender. But will Beal’s stroke hold up outside of DC? Can the Wizards keep staying ahead in the turnover battle playing 3 time zones behind?

Last night gave us reason to hope. Four games from now, we’ll know if that hope has turned to belief.

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