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Gortat didn't show at Wizards media day to talk about the past

Gortat didn't show at Wizards media day to talk about the past

Marcin Gortat isn't shy about offering an opinion. Sometimes the Wizards' starting center blurts out what's on his mind no matter the level of honesty. That's perhaps why at times the veteran has learned his best response is saying nothing at all. 

The level of silence late last season and at times during Monday's media day at Verizon Center spoke volumes about Gortat's mood during a campaign that ended with the Wizards missing the playoffs, changing head coaches and overhauling the roster. 

Gortat was largely playful with members of the media Monday, whether discussing:

*His initial impressions of new head coach and recent dinner companion Scott Brooks ("He paid the bill for the restaurant, so that's good. He's a good guy.")

* How he and free agent center addition Ian Mahinmi will work together ("I wish to play together with him. At the same time, unfortunately I'm like 99 percent sure only one of us will play at the same time.")

* Why he's intrigued by the addition of fellow European import Tomas Satoransky ("I'm excited to have another white guy on the team.")

When it came to just about anything involving last season, the free-flowing talk dammed up. 

Asked how he hopes Brooks will be different from ex-coach Randy Wittman, Gortat responded, "Oh, man, I don't want to answer this question, man. Sorry." On his mood during the final 2-3 months of last season, he said, "Man, you don't want to know.  I don't want to discuss. It was bad." On frequently ducking out after games before reporters arrived in the locker room, he explained it was to protect his frustrated self from saying who knows what on the record. As to whether winning helps cure the woes, Gortat said, "There was a lot of things going on. It doesn't matter."

Wittman and Gortat clashed at times over the years with the big man's role and minutes, especially in late game situations. The coach twice directed Washington to the Eastern Conference semifinals, but his direct and acerbic form of communication wasn't for everybody. 


The way Gortat sees it, that was then. The "rejuvenated" Polish Machine is ready to hammer whatever comes his way this upcoming season.

"We obviously have a new team," Gortat said with a reference beyond the roster. "What I mean by that is not only the players, but we have a new PR guy, a new guy in the weight room, a new trainer. A few new guys in the marketing (department). We do have a completely new team. Just because we're called the Washington Wizards doesn't mean everything is the same. We have a lot of new things on the team, including the carpet in the locker room. It's fresh. We have a nice logo. We've got two coolers now with drinks, with Gatorade's, not only one. There's a lot of new things around."

Does new mean more fun?

"You know what, I'll answer this question probably in a few weeks, a few months, but what I can tell you right now -- I've been here about a week. It was fun to be here. It was fun to be here and play with these guys pickup games. ...Everybody was running, everybody was doing the right thing. We had fun being here. We were not forced to be here. We really enjoyed being here together and work together," he said.

Gortat, who averaged 13.5 points and 9.9 rebounds in 75 games last season, understands that guards John Wall and Bradley Beal are the main options for a team looking to improve on their disappointing 41-41 record. He knows about Brooks's impressive resume from his time with Kevin Durant in Oklahoma City. Perhaps most of all, he understands that he even though he stayed put, the 2016-17 represents a fresh start in Washington.

For the record, outside of a dinner and another interaction, Gortat didn't do any homework on his new coach.

"No, I didn't study.  I definitely didn't study him in my five months off, Coach Brooks," Gortat cracked. "I ain't gonna [BS] you here.  I was studying different things in the summer: The beach and the pool."

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Another 40-point third quarter evens another playoff series for the Wizards

Another 40-point third quarter evens another playoff series for the Wizards

Last night's Washington Wizards comeback would not have happened had it not been for the team's blowout third quarter. 

Of course, you can say that literally about any quarter, but if you take away the third, the Toronto Raptors outscored Washington easily, 78-66.

The Wizards won by eight and this wasn’t the first time we’ve seen a performance of this magnitude from this bunch.

In that frame alone in Game 4, the Wizards broke out to 40 points, the same amount they had in the first two quarters combined. As a team, they shot 65 percent and 83 percent from deep (5-for-6).

By far that was their best offensive quarter of this series.

Of course, Bradley Beal got his due, 12 points including three 3pters, but for the first time this series, Otto Porter Jr. became a threat on the offensive end of the court.

The 6-8 forward scored 10 of his 12 points, all of which came in a 26-14 run. First, he started with back-to-back three-pointers, both in the tail end of a transition, both a feed from John Wall. One came from the corner and the other came off of a screen that ended up being a close contest from OG Anunoby.

That run resulted in the Wizards’ first lead of the game from a corner three courtesy of Beal.

Speaking of Anunoby, he was silent in that quarter for the Raptors. Granted in the first half he was taken off the court after getting pinned under Marcin Gortat, but the Raptors’ guard played for nine minutes and the only thing he recorded on the stat sheet was a foul.

Serge Ibaka, who has also been a pain in the Wizards’ side also disappeared. One rebound, two points from the free throw line, and one block was all that the 6-10 forward managed. With Porter on the court and producing, it pushed Ibaka to set up outside the paint, clearing the lane for Wall to generate movement on the offense.

All this being said, Toronto actually didn’t have a bad quarter. They shot 50 percent from the field and DeMar DeRozan had 14 points.

But the Wizards were simply better. They out-shot one of the best all-around offensive teams in the league.

Rolling with the punches in transition, not passing up open looks, Wall dealing out six assists; that is the Wizards’ team that knocked off some of the top teams in the NBA this year. No one shot more than five times in the quarter and the team combined for 10 assists on the 15 made baskets.

They erased a 14-point deficit and were tied at 80 heading into the fourth.

If you look back to the last 40-point playoff quarter for Washington, there are many parallels. It was another series where the Wizards were down 0-2 to the Celtics. They were dealing with an offensive driven team and the physicality became a prevalent story in the series.

Had it not been for those 12 minutes of basketball, the Wizards would be down 3-1 and face an insurmountable climb to get back into their First Round series. Now they are at a fresh slate in a best-of-3 series. With all the momentum, Washington is just two wins away from getting back to the Second Round of the NBA Playoffs.

Hopefully, this time is a little different than the last.





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Kelly Oubre, Jr. continues to step up for Wizards in series against Raptors

Kelly Oubre, Jr. continues to step up for Wizards in series against Raptors

All along as Kelly Oubre, Jr. wilted from the three-point line down the stretch of the regular season, his head coach Scott Brooks would deflect the attention to other areas of his game. Brooks was sending a message to his young forward that he can still make an impact in other ways, and as long as he did Brooks would overlook the shooting woes.

Through four games in the Wizards-Raptors series, Brooks' mantra with Oubre has proven prescient. Just like the Wizards as a team, Oubre has his swagger back and for him it's had nothing to do with hitting threes.

Oubre was a sparkplug in both Games 3 and 4 as the Wizards earned consecutive victories to send the series back to Toronto locked at 2-2. Game 4 on Sunday night well illustrated just how effective Oubre can be even if he isn't scoring.

Oubre had 10 points and shot 2-for-6 from the field, a modest scoring night. He did everything else well.

Oubre drew two offensive fouls, notched two steals, grabbed give rebounds and dished two assists. He was aggressive attacking the rim and earned seven free throw attempts as his reward.

Oubre was personally most pleased with forcing turnovers. In true Oubre fashion, he offered a unique explanation why.

"Yeah, man. You got to be different. I'm just trying to be different, man. Trying to get extra possessions for my teammates," he said.

Oubre's defense was essential in Game 4. He helped hold DeMar DeRozan to just 10 field goals on 29 attempts. Though DeRozan ended up with 35 points, he needed to attempt 18 free throws to get there.

The Wizards can live with DeRozan scoring a lot of points, even 35, if he shoots 34.5 percent from the field. He also had four turnovers.

Oubre's most important moments came in the final five minutes of the game. Star shooting guard Bradley Beal fouled out with 4:58 remaining and Brooks had nowhere else to turn. Tomas Satoransky's role has been diminished in the playoffs, Ty Lawson gives up size on defense and Jodie Meeks, the primary backup shooting guard for most of the season, is suspended.

Oubre was contributing all night, so Brooks put him in there alongside John Wall, Otto Porter, Markieff Morris and Marcin Gortat. It worked.

Wall scored eight of their final 14 points as the Wizards closed out the victory, but Oubre did several things to help seal it. He hit three free throws, grabbed a rebound and stole the ball from Kyle Lowry with 12 seconds to go and dribbled it out.

Two of Oubre's free throws came with 22.5 seconds left and they extended the Wizards' lead to 104-96. He was fouled in the final second of the shot clock and the Raptors called a timeout, perhaps hoping to ice him.

After the team gathered, Oubre walked to halfcourt to wait for the break to end. Veteran Jason Smith, who did not appear in the game, walked out to chat with him. 

Smith stood next to Oubre and gave him an extended pep talk. He sensed the moment and knew Oubre needed to calm his nerves.

Smith led Oubre through deep breaths to slow everything down. Oubre nodded his head and followed along, then he knocked down both shots.

"I've been there before," Smith said. "I've gotta stay active and impact the game any way I can. That was my little tidbit."

Oubre was clutch for the Wizards when they needed him most and got some sage advice as he helped the Wizards push over the finish line.

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