Little things contribute to Blazers' six-game skid

Blazers work on issues that led up to last-second loss

By Candace Buckner, Columbian staff writer

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TUALATIN, Ore. -- On the eve of a game, the Trail Blazers hit the practice floor for a session that could be described as 'Little Things 101.'

On Tuesday afternoon, Blazers coach Terry Stotts said the team has not changed much in order to stop the current six-game losing streak. However, the physicality of the practice felt different to at least one player.

"We got after it today," Wesley Matthews said. "A lot of contact. Screen setting, fighting through screens, transition defense. There was a lot of contact today."

In other words, the Blazers touched on the areas that subtly led up to the last-second loss to the Washington Wizards on Monday night.

The shot certainly stung -- Jordan Crawford launched a deep 3-pointer as time expired for the Wizards' 98-95 win -- but earlier scenes helped create the outcome:

• An unawareness of Nene on the fast break in the first quarter;

• The pick-and-roll screeners not creating enough space for Damian Lillard through the first half for clean looks as he started the game 1 for 7

• The Wizards living in the corner all game to make six of their eight 3-pointers from those easy spots.

While the final moment will be remembered, the prelude played its part.

"Those shots go in from time to time, but my concern was the little things that got us up to that point," Stotts said on Tuesday. "Whether it's transition defense or urgency at the beginning of the game or consistent shows on pick-and-rolls or consistent help on weak-side help. All those little things put us in a position where a guy can make that shot. And to a man, I wanted them to all think about the little things that they could've -- each of them could've done better to help (produce) a win."

Stotts echoed his comments after Monday night when he described the "little breakdowns" the team needed to repair.

So just before the Indiana Pacers came to town for a Wednesday night game, the Blazers concentrated on drills that demanded extra effort.

"We always compete, but this was more drill (oriented) for contact," Matthews said. "There's no avoiding it. You had to show up."

Lillard, Batum did not practice

To borrow Matthews' words, a few Blazer starters did not "show up" on Tuesday -- but for good reason.

According to Stotts, Lillard visited with a doctor about a sore right hamstring.

"He went to go get that checked out," said Stotts, who did not comment on Lillard's status against the Pacers.

Also, Nicolas Batum, fresh off his first career triple-double, only stayed for the half-hour video session but missed practice because he had to get his visa.

Hickson poster night

Recently, J.J. Hickson screamed and flexed after – as the kids say – "posterizing" Cleveland's Alonzo Gee with a massive dunk. Now, Hickson kicks off the first of six "Wednesday Night Poster Series" games at the Rose Garden.

The first 10,000 fans at the Blazers-Pacers game will receive the Hickson poster, which shows the 6-foot-9 center in an action pose against a white background. Through the rest of the season, the Blazers will feature poster nights for all five starters individually, as well as a team poster.

The "Wednesday Night Poster Series" lineup includes:

• Feb. 27 vs. Denver: Damian Lillard

• March 27 vs. Brooklyn: Nicolas Batum

• April 3 vs. Memphis: LaMarcus Aldridge

• April 10 vs. L.A. Lakers: Wesley Matthews

• April 17 vs. Golden State (Fan Appreciation Night): All-Team Poster