"When you have that opportunity to start, you try to make the
most of it," Kemp said. "You try not to do too much. You just try
to go out there and have fun, and that's what I did tonight."
Kemp, who shot 8-for-15 in a season-high 43 minutes, started at
center in place of Dale Davis, who began serving a two-game
suspension for throwing a punch at Shawn Bradley in Portland's win
over Dallas on Thursday night.
"All year, we always said if he got the minutes, he could be a
20-10 guy every night," said Portland's Bonzi Wells. "With Dale
suspended, we weren't really worried, because we knew what type of
(effort) Kemp was going to bring to the game."
Rasheed Wallace added 25 points, Wells 22 and Scottie Pippen
tied his career high with 15 assists for the Blazers, who shot 80
percent in the third quarter to pull away.
Chris Whitney had 15 points and seven assists to lead the
Wizards, who fell to 3-8 since Michael Jordan had surgery on his
right knee Feb. 27. Washington dropped 2½ games behind Charlotte
for the eighth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
"Coming into Portland, it's tough to beat a team this good if
you don't take care of the ball," said guard Courtney Alexander.
"We can compete with anybody, and we have to bring it every night
to prove we are a playoff-caliber team."
With the victory, Portland pulled into a tie with Minnesota for
fifth place in the Western Conference.
Portland trailed early in the third quarter but took control
with a 19-4 run. Wallace sank a 3-pointer over Kwame Brown, then
Pippen threw a long lob to Wallace for a dunk to put the Blazers
Wallace made an acrobatic one-handed slam on another lob from
Pippen, then Damon Stoudamire made a 3-pointer with 1.8 seconds
left in the period to push the lead to 77-62.
Kemp didn't practice on Friday because he was still groggy from
sustaining a mild concussion against the Mavericks. He needed four
stitches to close a cut after he banged heads with teammate Chris
Dudley. Cheeks chose Kemp over Dudley, who had only a bump on his
"Usually when I come to the gym, I don't really realize how
many minutes I'm going to play, or what the opportunity is going to
be. It's not always the most comfortable feeling, but it's a role
that I have to accept," Kemp said.
Although Kemp made plenty of mistakes, this was easily the best
he's looked in the six games since returning from a five-game
league suspension for violating terms of his substance abuse
Kemp started just three games last season, which was cut short
when he took a leave of absence to enter a rehabilitation program
for cocaine abuse. Kemp missed the last eight games, and he was
working to get himself in better shape this season before his
"He's not playing as well as he was a few weeks ago, but given
the fact that he's out there on the court, now he can get his
rhythm and timing back," Pippen said.
The Blazers made a concerted effort to get Kemp involved early,
with mixed results. He lost the ball a few times and let Jahidi
White go around him for two easy baskets, but Kemp had 10 points
and seven rebounds in the first quarter.
Portland has won seven straight over the Wizards. ... The
Blazers have won eight straight at home and 16 of 18 since starting
out 9-7 at the Rose Garden. ... In the 11 games since Jordan had
his operation, Alexander has averaged 17.1 points. He averaged just
5.3 in his previous 29 games. ... The Wizards' Tyronn Lue scored
just three points, one night after getting a career-high 26 in a
victory at Seattle.