HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – Thursday night in Portland, the Washington Wizards shot 12-for-27 (44 percent) from 3-point range.
Those are good numbers. Prior to Thursday, teams were 353-180 (.662) when they hit 10 or more threes in a game. The Wizards themselves were 28-10 when shooting better than 36 percent from beyond the arc.
It’s also impressive that the Wiz were able to generate so much perimeter offense without Marcin Gortat (who hurt his back warming up), one of the most prolific pick-and-roll bigs in the league. They’ve been much more efficient offensively with Gortat on the floor this season, but they scored 103 points on just 91 possessions (113 per 100) on Thursday.
The problem was that the Blazers shot 14-for-35 from 3-point range and scored 116 points on 91 possessions (127 per 100). The Wizards ranked ninth defensively when Nene went down with a left knee injury on Feb. 23, but rank 21st since then, having allowed 108.0 points per 100 possessions over the last 12 games.
Nene might not have been the difference maker on Thursday, because even with the players the Wizards had, some of Portland’s threes were avoidable.
- NBA.com/stats: Watch all 14 of the Blazers’ 3-pointers on Thursday
Second chances, then 3 points
The Blazers rank second in offensive rebounding percentage and lead the league with 88 second-chance 3-pointers.
Three of those 88 came Thursday …
Foes pay for doubling the post
Those first two second-chance 3-pointers came directly off the offensive rebound. But on the third one, Nicolas Batum found himself wide open when John Wall double-teamed Wesley Matthews in the low post.
That was also the third three that the Blazers got directly off a Matthews post-up. On the first two, either Wall or Bradley Beal initially fronted Matthews in the post, and when the Blazers were still able to get Matthews the ball, Trevor Booker came to help from the baseline.
From there, the Wizards’ defense was scrambling and there was an open three one or two passes away …
Matthews is a pretty good post-up guard, but there shouldn’t be a need to send a double-team when he’s being defended by the 6-foot-4 Beal or 6-foot-4 Wall. That idea is especially true when the Blazers have an extra shooter on the floor.
Wright kind of mismatch
The Blazers are now 7-2 without LaMarcus Aldridge, having scored an efficient 112.0 points per 100 possessions in the nine games. Aldridge is thought of as Portland’s best player, but of their five starters, he has, by far, the lowest true shooting percentage. His abundance of mid-range shots (he still leads the league by 139 attempts) makes him a relatively inefficient scorer.
And while the Wizards will still start two bigs when Nene and/or Gortat are injured, the Blazers have gone small without Aldridge, starting Dorell Wright at the four.
Wright didn’t burn Booker all night from the perimeter, and the Wizards were a plus-2 in 16 minutes with Booker and Kevin Seraphin on the floor together, but there were a couple of times when Booker couldn’t keep up with the shooter …
The Wizards’ schedule gets a lot easier from here on out. Thursday was their last road game against a team with a winning record. But their 3-point defense needs to be better, because three of their next five games are against the three teams — the Lakers (32), Suns (36) and Hawks (32) — who have the most games with 10 or more threes.