After their worst start in history, the Washington Wizards became a national punch line. On TNT, Charles Barkley compared them to the Washington Generals, and a local newspaper had photos of fans wearing paper bags over their heads at Monday's 26-point loss to San Antonio.
The jokes can stop -- at least for now.
Washington earned its first victory after starting the season with 12 straight losses, beating the visiting Portland Trail Blazers 84-82 on Wednesday night.
"When you're 0-12, guys are going to make fun. That's our business, guys," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said.
"When you get to this level, you've got to have some thick skin, and you've got to be able to overcome those kind of things."
Washington survived a scoreless 6:47 in the fourth when Jordan Crawford, who had 19 points, hit on a 3-pointer with 2:06 to play. The Wizards finally took the 84-82 lead on Emeka Okafor's two free throws with 39.1 seconds remaining.
Nine teams started the season 0-13, and the Wizards were tired of the ridicule they'd been subjected to -- locally and nationally -- as they crept toward the Nets' NBA record-worst start of 0-18.
"We don't want to go down in history as one of the
Nets 95, Celtics 83: Doc Rivers wants the Boston Celtics to be tough -- not violent. The message came too late for Rajon Rondo.
The Celtics point guard was ejected from the home game against the Nets when he retaliated for a hard foul against Kevin Garnett by shoving Brooklyn forward Kris Humphries into the courtside seats. Rondo, Humphries and Nets forward Gerald Wallace were ejected, and Brooklyn held on to win.
"All that stuff, that's not toughness," Rivers told reporters, calling his team soft. "That foul was a hard foul. It was an unnecessary foul. The play was over and then he pushed him down in the air. But I think that's what they think of us: They think they can push you around."
Joe Johnson scored 18 points and Andray Blatche had 17 points and 13 rebounds as the Nets opened up a 21-point, first-half lead and took advantage of the loss of the Celtics' All-Star to win for the ninth time in 11 games.
Thunder 120, Rockets 98: Kevin Durant matched his season high with 37 points, and Oklahoma City beat Houston in James Harden's first game back in Chesapeake Energy Arena since being traded by the Thunder before the season.
Harden scored 17 points but was limited to 3-for-16 shooting. He had six shots blocked by the Thunder.
Knicks 102, Bucks 88: Carmelo Anthony scored 29 points to lead visiting New York over Milwaukee.
Spurs 110, Magic 89: Manu Ginobili had 20 points, Gary Neal scored 19 and visiting San Antonio won its fifth straight.
Hawks 94, Bobcats 91: Al Horford scored 17 points and hit two clinching free throws to help host Atlanta win its sixth straight.
Grizzlies 103, Raptors 82: Marreese Speights had 18 points and 12 rebounds to help host Memphis to its third straight win.
Bulls 101, Mavericks 78: Luol Deng had 22 points and six rebounds to lead host Chicago over Dallas.
After the game, Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle announced that the team will sign veteran point guard Derek Fisher on Thursday. Fisher has won five championship rings, all with the Los Angeles Lakers, during his 16 NBA seasons.
Clippers: Chauncey Billups returned to the court for the Los Angeles Clippers against the Minnesota Timberwolves after being sidelined for more than nine months because of injury.
"He's been cleared from his injury for quite a while now, but a few weeks ago he tweaked his back. So it was more precautionary," coach Vinny Del Negro said.
Billups played in 20 games last season before he tore his left Achilles tendon Feb. 6 against Orlando.
Timberwolves: Point guard Ricky Rubio got the green light from doctors for full-contact practices, the last major hurdle he needed to clear in his recovery from torn ligaments in his left knee. The team still has not set a timetable for his first game action.