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Friday, Nov. 30, 2012

Wizards end nightmare start with win


WASHINGTON — After their worst start in history, the Washington Wizards became a national punch line. On TNT, Charles Barkley compared them 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.

News photo
Low post: Los Angeles' Blake Griffin goes up for a shot against Minnesota's Nikola Pekovic in the first half on Wednesday night. The Clippers beat the Timberwolves 101-95. AP

The jokes can stop — at least for now.

Washington earned its first victory after starting the season with 12 straight losses, beating the Portland Trail Blazers 84-82 on Wednesday night.

"When you're 0-12, guys are going to make fun. That's our business, guys," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said.

"When you get to this level, you've got to have some thick skin, and you've got to be able to overcome those kind of things."

Washington survived a scoreless 6:47 in the fourth when Jordan Crawford, who had 19 points, hit on a 3-pointer with 2:06 to play. 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.

"Well, we made it interesting, but we won," Wittman said.

Nine teams in history have 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.

"We don't want to go down in history as one of the worst teams ever," Washington forward Chris Singleton said.

Wittman, whose team travels to New York on Friday and plays Miami next Tuesday, knows the next win may be hard to get.

"We just broke through the ice. I've lived in Minnesota for 15, 17 years. That ice was 4 or 5 feet deep, but it's broken through now," Wittman said.

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 16 straight points to take a 80-79 lead with 2:27 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.

"Loss is a loss, but this one definitely stings knowing the team is 0-12. You never want to be the team they get the win on but we were that team," Hickson said.

Nets 95, Celtics 83

In Boston, Joe Johnson scored 18 points, Andray Blatche had 17 points and 13 rebounds, and the Nets beat the Celtics after Rajon Rondo was ejected following a fight.

The Celtics point guard was tossed after he shoved Kris Humphries to retaliate for the Nets forward's hard foul against Kevin Garnett. Humphries and Brooklyn forward Gerald Wallace were also ejected for their roles in the second-quarter skirmish.

Thunder 120, Rockets 98

In Oklahoma City, Kevin Durant matched his season high with 37 points, and the Thunder beat Houston in James Harden's first game back at Chesapeake Energy Arena since being traded by Oklahoma City before the season.

Bulls 101, Mavericks 78

In Chicago, Luol Deng had 22 points and six rebounds.

Five players scored at least 11 points to help the Bulls (7-7) beat the Mavericks for the fourth straight time.

Grizzlies 103, Raptors 82

In Memphis, Marreese Speights had 18 points and 12 rebounds to help the Grizzlies beat Toronto for their third straight win.

Knicks 102, Bucks 88

In Milwaukee, Carmelo Anthony scored 29 points.

Anthony, who sat out the fourth quarter, was 9 of 18 from the floor and also grabbed eight rebounds in 30 minutes. The second-leading scorer in the NBA has scored at least 29 points in his last four games, including 35 points and 13 rebounds in a 96-89 overtime loss at Brooklyn on Monday.

Pistons 117, Suns 77

In Auburn Hills, Michigan, Brandon Knight and Charlie Villanueva scored 19 points apiece, and Detroit routed Phoenix to win back-to-back games for the first time this season.

Hawks 94, Bobcats 91

In Atlanta, Al Horford scored 17 points and hit two clinching free throws.

Josh Smith and Lou Williams also had 17 points apiece for the Hawks.

Spurs 110, Magic 89

In Orlando, Manu Ginobili had 20 points, Gary Neal scored 19 and San Antonio raced past the Magic for its fifth straight victory.

Jazz 96, Hornets 84

In New Orleans, Al Jefferson had 19 points, Marvin Williams scored 16 before leaving with concussion symptoms and Utah won its second straight game.

Paul Millsap scored nine of his 16 points during a dominant third quarter for Utah, and Gordon Hayward had 13 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter to help the Jazz overcome one last New Orleans surge.

Clippers 101, Timberwolves 95

In Los Angeles, Chris Paul had 23 points and 11 assists, and the Clippers welcomed Chauncey Billups back to the lineup for the first time this season with a victory over the Timberwolves.

Billups had eight points and three assists in 20 minutes as the Clippers ended a four-game losing streak. The five-time All-Star, beginning his 16th NBA season, was sidelined for more than nine months after tearing his left Achilles' tendon on Feb. 6 in a 107-102 victory at Orlando.

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