Trail Blazers-Wizards Preview
By JEFF BARTL
(AP) -- The Portland Trail Blazers' long road trip hasn't gotten off to a fabulous start, but their struggles seem minimal compared to those of the Washington Wizards.
Portland continues its seven-game road stretch against Eastern Conference foes Wednesday night as it looks to keep Washington winless.
The Blazers (6-8) set a season low for points in a 98-85 loss to Brooklyn to open their trip Sunday before falling 108-101 at Detroit the following night. Damian Lillard started the trip leading all rookies with an average of 20.2 points, but he's been held in check the past two games.
Lillard hit 4 of 12 from the field and scored 13 points against the Nets, then missed his first 12 shots before finishing 4 of 18 and tying his season low with 12 points Monday.
LaMarcus Aldridge hit 12 of his 22 shots and finished with a season-high 32 points and 10 rebounds after sitting out Sunday's game with back spasms.
"I know we can do better than this. We shouldn't keep getting off to slow starts and playing this kind of defense," Aldridge said. "I don't know how to fix it."
Nicolas Batum struggled for the third straight game, going 2 for 9 and scoring seven points. He's averaging 9.3 points - 8.5 below his average - and shooting 31.3 percent during his rough stretch.
Portland is averaging 33.6 points in the paint - better only than Washington's league-worst average of 31.0 - but coach Terry Stotts doesn't seem too concerned about his team's interior inefficiencies.
"We are not a paint-scoring team," Stotts said. "(Aldridge) will get there and we will get some offensive rebounds, but our primary scorers - (Lillard), (Wesley Matthews), and (Batum) - are not in-the-paint scorers. I do not necessarily expect to win points in the paint."
Not many expect the Wizards to win, period, considering they became the 12th team in NBA history to start 0-12 after falling 118-92 to San Antonio on Monday.
Jordan Crawford scored a game-high 19 points off the bench while Kevin Seraphin added 18 for Washington, which again played without Nene as he deals with a nagging left foot injury that has kept him out of 10 games.
Coach Randy Wittman said he'll be a game-time decision Wednesday.
"It's another loss. I don't know what you want me to say," Wittman said. "We can't feel sorry for ourselves. Nobody in this league feels sorry for us. We can't add onto the problem and feel sorry for ourselves."
Martell Webster, whom the Blazers selected sixth overall in the 2005 draft, hit 5 of 7 from the field and had 16 points after scoring a season-high 21 against Charlotte on Saturday. Though he said the team isn't getting down on itself, everyone needs to play with more energy.
"We're all embarrassed - plain and simple," Webster said. "We knew the gameplan, we didn't come out and execute it. All-around effort was not up to par. We have to be better, there's no excuses.
"We can't look anywhere for help. This is what we have."
Batum scored a then-career high 33 points but Aldridge left with an injury in the first quarter of Washington's 124-109 win at the Rose Garden on Feb. 14. Aldridge came back to score 30 points and grab 10 rebounds as the Blazers won 110-99 in the nation's capital March 10.
Updated November 27, 2012