WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP)–The Washington Wizards earned their first victory after starting the season with 12 straight losses, getting 19 points from Jordan Crawford in an 84-82 win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night.
Washington survived a scoreless 6:47 in the fourth when Crawford hit on a 3-pointer with 2:06 to play, and the Wizards finally took the 84-82 lead on Emeka Okafor’s two free throws with 39.1 seconds remaining.
Damian Lillard was called for traveling with 28 seconds left. After Nene was called for an offensive foul, J.J. Hickson missed a jumper with 2.8 seconds to play. The Wizards lost the ball with 0.2 seconds to go, but held on to end the skid.
Nine teams started the season 0-13, and the Wizards were tired of the ridicule they’d been subjected to — locally and nationally — as they crept toward the Nets’ NBA record-worst start of 0-18.
On TNT, Charles Barkley compared the Wizards with the Washington Generals and a local newspaper had photos of fans wearing paper bags over their heads at Monday’s 26-point loss to San Antonio.
Trevor Ariza had 14 and Kevin Seraphin added 10 points and 10 rebounds for Washington, which ended the third quarter on a 23-7 run to take a 68-59 lead, then padded its lead to 15 barely three minutes into the fourth.
The 79-64 lead seemed safe — even for the Wizards — but the Trail Blazers ran off 15 straight points to tie the score at 79-all with 3:18 to play.
Lillard and Nicolas Batum led Portland, losers of three straight, with 20. LaMarcus Aldridge had 17. Hickson had 15 points and 19 rebounds.
The Blazers hit six of their first seven shots and took a 15-4 lead four minutes into the game.
Nene entered the game with 1:43 to play and helped spur the Wizards to a 37-31 lead with six minutes to play in the first half. At halftime, the teams were tied at 43-all.
After missing the first nine games of the season with a left foot injury, Nene played two games before missing Monday night’s loss.
Because the Wizards were 0-12, opponents feared them — in an unusual way.
“They know their record,” Portland coach Terry Stotts said. “None of them want to be a part of the team that gives the Wizards their first win.”
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Following the win, Wizards Head Coach Randy Wittman had some great words to say about the fans tonight.
“I love it. Those are the true fans that stayed with us, that got up and yelled at the people that started cheering for Portland. That’s what you love. That’s what you love. These are the true guys here and we appreciate it. Trust me, these guys really really appreciate that.”
Also the players were happy to get this one behind them.
“It feels good to pull one out,” Jordan Crawford said. “Especially the way we did cause we’ve been losing a lot of those. Builds a lot of confidence.”
But rookie Bradley Beal is already thinking ahead to next game.
“We can’t celebrate too much. We have a tough New York team coming up and that’s where our next focus is.”
Listen here to what Randy Wittman, Trevor Ariza, Bradley Beal, Jordan Crawford, Nene & Chris Singleton had to say following the win.
Randy Wittman Postgame Audio
Trevor Ariza Postgame Audio
Bradley Beal Postgame Audio
Jordan Crawford Postgame Audio
Nene Postgame Audio
Chris Singleton Postgame Audio