Becoming a winning team has been a long journey for the Wizards -- five years to be exact. Marcin Gortat hasn't even been here for a full season and he couldn't hold back his displeasure for their ability to lose games that they should win. Tuesday's breakdown at the Sacramento Kings was a perfect example, putting the Wizards in a must-win situation for Thursday's game at the Portland Trail Blazers.
"You can't win a basketball game if you're giving up bucket after bucket. You can't win a game like that," Gortat said of the Wizards' leaky fourth-quarter defense in Sacramento that wasted a 10-point lead. "We get punished for being cocky. We get punished for being too confident. Now, we got to get a win. Simple as that. I don't think it's going to be easy. The team we're going to play, its not a weak team."
The Blazers aren't the same powerhouse that the Wizards faced earlier in the season. They've dropped to a No. 5 seed in the West after losing five of their last seven games, with the two wins coming against losing teams.
Given their ability to be an explosive offensive team, however, maybe the Wizards will play more responsibly on defense than they did in Sacramento. Portland averages an NBA-high 107.6 points per game.
TV: There isn't a pregame or postgame show because of the late start. Tipoff from Moca Center is 10 p.m. ET on CSN. Radio: 1500 AM.
Last game: Wizards (35-32) lost at Sacramento Kings 117-111 OT on Tuesday; Blazers (44-24) beat Milwaukee Bucks 120-115 OT on Tuesday
Last meeting: Wizards won 100-90 on Feb. 3, only committing six turnovers as they went over .500 for the first time in five years. Season series: Wizards lead 1-0.
Projected starting lineups: Wizards –- PG John Wall, SG Bradley Beal, SF Trevor Ariza, PF Trevor Booker, C Marcin Gortat. Blazers –- PG Damian Lillard, SG Wes Matthews, SF Nicolas Batum, PF Dorrell Wright, C Robin Lopez.
X-factor: Blazers PF LaMarcus Aldridge (lower back) isn't expected to play.
Around the bend: The Wizards will travel immediately after this game to Los Angeles, where they'll meet the Lakers on Friday (CSN, 10:30 p.m. ET).