Dixon, Blake Lead Trail Blazers Past Wizards
Portland 97, Washington 92
PORTLAND, Ore., Dec. 18 (Ticker) -- Juan Dixon and Steve Blake had a rude welcome for their former team.
Dixon scored 20 points and Blake added 14 as the Portland Trail Blazers posted just their second win in their last 11 contests, a 97-92 triumph over the Washington Wizards.
"I think they were a little fired up," Trail Blazers coach Nate McMillan said. "They were there last year. You want to control your emotions and go into it with a clear mind. I thought those guys came out aggressive and played good smart basketball. I'm sure they wanted to show Washington what they let go."
"It was fun," Dixon said. "I like to compete with my old teammates. I know those guys well, played with them for the last three years. It felt great to go out there and get the win."
Starting for the first time this season, Dixon scored 10 points in the first quarter and ignited a 15-3 run in the third period with a 3-pointer. Blake made consecutive baskets in the burst to give the Trail Blazers a 67-50 lead.
"I feel as though if I start, I get in a good rhythm," Dixon said. "I'm more aggressive and able to set the tone. When you come off the bench, the tone is already set."
It was the first time that Dixon and Blake started together since winning a national championship at the University of Maryland in 2002.
"Playing with someone who knows me and me knowing his game well, it felt great," Dixon added. "We both want to compete, try to bring wins to the team. Hopefully we can continue in these roles."
Chucky Atkins capped a 19-5 spurt with back-to-back baskets from the arc, bringing the Wizards within 83-81 with 4:22 left. Atkins started in place of Jarvis Hayes, who sat out with a bruised knee.
Washington closed to 87-86 when Gilbert Arenas nailed a 3-pointer with 2:47 remaining. However, Blake and Dixon combined to score the next seven points to help Portland end a three-game slide in the series.
"They were highly motivated," Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said. "They got into the game and were really focused. They hit shots. Two players who were, to me, very instrumental to our success. It was a good game for them, a real good game, especially down the stretch."
"We wanted the ball down the stretch, no doubt," Dixon said. "Coach called a couple of sets for me, I got a good look, and I was able to hit a big shot. Steve did what he's done for the past couple of games now."
Viktor Khryapa scored 12 points, rookie Jarrett Jack had 11 and Ruben Patterson came off the bench to add 10 for Portland, which played without center Joel Przybilla (flu).
"We got the victory," said Blake, who made his second straight start in place of the injured Sebastian Telfair. "I think the key is that we played team basketball. Being a little shorthanded, hitting big shots is a good feeling, but it still comes down to stops on the defensive end."
Arenas scored 29 points and Atkins added 13 for the Wizards, who were outrebounded, 44-35, and fell to 3-9 on the road.
"We are so much better than what we are playing," Arenas said. "There are gonna be times when we come out flat and the shots may not fall, but what we need then is your energy. The things we did at the beginning of the year was no fluke. We need to snap out of it."
Portland took a 44-43 lead in the all-time series.