Roy Rises to Helps Blazers Beat Wizards

Blazers 98, Wizards 92

Pssst, all you NBA players who try to guard Brandon Roy. Listening? Here's a little tip: The guy is right-handed, but he is quite talented with his left.

Roy took his time to get going Wednesday night, and then he took over, scoring 12 of his 22 points in the final 8 minutes to help the Portland Trail Blazers extend their winning streak to six games by coming back to beat the Washington Wizards 98-92.

One of his most important baskets came on a drive to his left past defender DeShawn Stevenson to set up a lefty layup, giving Portland a four-point lead with 35 seconds to go.

"My whole life, guys send me left," Roy said. "I come to the bench, and my teammates are joking, 'Oh, you went left.' I'm like, 'Which way did he give me? He gave me left.' You give me right, I'll take right. But right now they're giving me left, and I do whatever I can to make plays out there."

Before the game, Wizards interim coach Ed Tapscott spoke about being wary of Roy's ability to go to his left. And yet his team couldn't stop it.

"Everything you learn along the way when you play basketball is: Force a guy to his weak hand. The problem is, his weak hand is his strong hand," Tapscott said afterward. "I wouldn't be surprised if he writes left-handed."

Roy swears not.

But as a kid, he asked his father how to learn to use his left hand on a basketball court. His dad's answer was simple: Work on it.

"Honestly, that's what he said, and I worked on it every day since," Roy said. "Maybe I overdid it, because I'm better with my left than my right."

He's been pretty good every which way lately.

Roy was honored Monday as Western Conference Player of the Week for his work from Nov. 24-30, when he averaged 20 points, 5.3 rebounds and six assists while shooting 51 percent on field-goal attempts.

He pretty much kept up that pace across the board Wednesday, shooting 9-for-19 and adding eight rebounds and four assists to his stats line.

"Every year he's improving. He's understanding what it takes to be one of those elite guys," said All-Star forward Antawn Jamison, who led the Wizards with 22 points.

"It wasn't going well for him in the first half. He didn't force it -- continued to plug away. And the last four or five minutes of the game, who had the ball in their hands? Who made plays? Who won the game? It was him."

The well-balanced Blazers did put five players in double-figures: Roy, Greg Oden, LaMarcus Aldridge, Rudy Fernandez and Steve Blake. Oden, the rookie center who missed all of last season, finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds for his sixth double-double in the past 12 games.

Washington began the fourth quarter with a 9-0 spurt capped by Nick Young's 3-pointer to go ahead 81-79. Portland shot 0-for-6 in that stretch, not scoring a point in that quarter until nearly 4 1/2 minutes had elapsed.

And that is when Roy really began to assert himself, scoring seven points in a 9-2 run by the Blazers as they took an 86-83 lead.

"I did say, 'All right, it's time to be aggressive. If they're going to win this game, they're going to win with me attacking them,"' Roy said. "I wanted to push it hard, the tempo. We both played last night, so it was going to be who was the more mentally tough team."

Score one in that category for Portland, which improved to 7-0 against Eastern Conference teams and 14-6 overall, best in the Northwest Division.

The Wizards, meanwhile, dropped to an Eastern Conference-worst 3-13. Washington was coming off a 20-point victory at the New Jersey Nets on Tuesday night, but still is seeking its first winning streak of the season.

"Close only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades, you know?" Tapscott said. "So we've got to close the deal." 

Notes: The Wizards are 2-3 under Tapscott, who took over when Eddie Jordan was fired after a 1-10 start. ... Portland is off to its best start since the 1999-00 season.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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