MINNEAPOLIS — The video proved the Washington Wizards got a break in Saturday’s overtime win at Portland. Markieff Morris’ foot was on the sideline as he caught a pass leading to his game-winning shot.
Washington’s five-game, West Coast swing has proven to be very fortunate for the surging Wizards. Washington has won five games in a row, and the first four of the road trip, to sit in second place in the Eastern Conference heading into Sunday.
The Wizards’ victory against the Trailblazers aided the Minnesota Timberwolves, who are trying to find their way into playoff position with Portland as one of their main contenders. Minnesota has a chance to make its own move against Washington when the Timberwolves host the Wizards on Monday.
Minnesota lost at Milwaukee on Saturday on the second half of a back-to-back after beating the Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors in consecutive games.
“We didn’t play well in the fourth quarter,” Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau said after Saturday’s 102-95 loss. “You’re talking about one of the hottest teams in the league right now and this is six in a row for them. … I knew coming in we were going to have to be at our best. We got off to a slow start, we didn’t close the half well, we didn’t start the fourth well and that created a problem.”
Even if Minnesota can get off to a quick start against Washington, the Wolves will have to be wary of a Wizards’ comeback.
Saturday’s win against Portland was Washington’s 14th win of the season after trailing by double-digits. The Wizards came back from a 21-point deficit at halftime, their largest comeback win of the season.
“We’ve been doing that all year,” Washington coach Scott Brooks said. “We never give into the game. We just keep competing for each other, and we expect to make a run. You have to continue to fight through it, and the guys did a good job.”
The Wizards put themselves into a position to benefit from the late non-call on Morris’ shot.
“Looking at it on the replay,” Washington point guard John Wall said, “you could tell his foot was on the line.”
The play wasn’t reviewed and the Wizards won 125-124, their second straight overtime win. Wall scored 39 points, while Bradley Beal had 26 points.
On a season-long, five-game road trip, Washington has scored at least 123 points in each game. The trip included stops in Phoenix, Denver and Sacramento before Portland and Minnesota. The Wizards have another five-game trip west later in the month with stops in Cleveland, Los Angeles for two games, Utah and Golden State.
“You can’t give in to the schedule,” Brooks said of playing four games in five days on Saturday. “You can’t give in to four games in five nights in four different cities. You have to play your game every night. We all get paid to play and coach 82 games, and we have to do it. My job is to adjust the minutes and make sure everybody is as fresh as I can.”
Monday will be Minnesota’s third game in four nights. The Wolves will try to recapture the momentum they had after winning eight games in 12 contests before Saturday’s loss. Minnesota (27-38) opened Sunday’s slate of games 11th in the Western Conference, 3.5 games behind eighth-place Denver.
“We got some good looks,” said Wolves center Karl-Anthony Towns after scoring 35 points against Milwaukee. “I think we did a good job but it comes down to that they made shots. They made more shots than us in the fourth quarter. That’s the game of basketball. We have to move on and get ready for Monday.”
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