This morning, there was this look at Marcin Gortat who has come on strong as the Wizards push towards the postseason. At shootaround before tonight's game with the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center, Gortat went into more detail about why he's having so much success and as usual was his honest and blunt self: Coach Randy Wittman is finally keeping him on the floor in fourth quarters and he no longer has to share the court with Kris Humphries.
The result: 13.8 points on 55.2% shooting, 10.2 rebounds (10th in NBA) and 1.4 blocks.
Jared Dudley took over the starting role for Humphries by starting 39 games in a new pace-and-space offense. Gortat had trouble rebounding because he didn't have any help, however, with Dudley being undersized. Now Markieff Morris, who was acquired in a trade for Humphries a few weeks ago, appears to be taking over that role.
"It's opportunities, being the guy who's pretty much played the whole fourth quarter. I didn't have that opportunity in the first 50 games," Gortat said. "I'm definitely excited about playing more minutes. I think just having Markieff or Jared next to me in the starting lineup it's a much better fit for me than Kris Humphries. Not picking on him but he just didn't fit with me well. He's a totally different player than Keef or Jared. I feel more comfortable playing with them."
Gortat is coming off a career game vs. the Philadelphia 76ers when he had 18 points, 20 rebounds and five assists on Monday. Morris, who was branded a malcontent in Phoenix before he was sent to Washington because of tossing a towel in the face of his coach among other things, had 13 rebounds in that game.
"That's my boy," Gortat said. "He's a great teammate. All the stuff that went on in Phoenix, it was totally blown out of proportion. Right now we're not giving him towels to throw at people."
If Morris continues to start, then in theory Gortat should be better. Last season, the big man was visibly upset when Wittman would pull him in fourth quarters of games, opting to go with smaller lineups to combat other teams' small personnel. He was upset earlier this season when Wittman criticized his effort rebounding. Now Gortat feels like he has better options with Morris contributing to the dirty work on the glass or being the recipient of numerous pocket passes for layups from Dudley when he's in there.
"I feel good moving the ball with them. We just understand each other much better. We played in Phoenix two years," said Gortat, who was traded to Washington from Phoenix just before the 2013-14 season began. "It's just a much better fit for me. I was waiting for nine years for a game with 20 rebounds. Finally that happened. Hopefully I'm going to break another record before I'm 40."