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Morning tip: Like everyone else, Temple shines with John Wall


Morning tip: Like everyone else, Temple shines with John Wall

The last two games for the Wizards may not have been winnable without Garrett Temple's outbursts. He's on the roster because of his defense but has evolved into a better scorer and three-point shooter in a pinch.

Tonight, he will have to help carry the load on a perimeter that has been hit with injuries to Bradley Beal, Gary Neal and Otto Porter when the Memphis Grizzlies come to Verizon Center (CSN, CSNmidatlantic.com and NBC Sports Live Extra, 6:30 p.m. ET). 

John Wall, as he was when Martell Webster and Trevor Ariza had career seasons, is the set-up man. He had a career-high 19 assists in Monday's 113-99 win vs. the Sacramento Kings. Temple posted a career-high 23 points two nights after first accomplishing the feat with 21 in a 109-101 win vs. the Charlotte Hornets. And despite a seven-man rotation, the quicker pace wasn't abandoned. It assisted Temple getting out in transition for easy baskets.

"It's John Wall so guys are going to key on him. Things as little as him getting the rebound and pushing it, guys looking at him and he's able to kick it up to me for a one- or two-dribble layup," said Temple, who scored 10 of his points in the fourth quarter with Sacramento as the Wizards broke open a score that was tied at 84. "We understand they're going to key on John. I'm going to be sitting in the corner, spaced out and be ready to shoot the ball. With the second unit we don't have a guy to key on so guys have to try to create offense for themselves. When you have John it's easier to play off him."

This is true for just about anybody in the NBA, be it Temple or a rookie like Kelly Oubre. Play with better creators and shots will come easier. Temple is 7 of 13 from three-point range in the last two games. After shooting 37.5% from long range last season, he has dipped to 31%. His 6.3 points per game average is a career-high.

It doesn't matter if Temple plays 42 minutes or spot minutes like he did to begin the season. The 6-6 shooting guard is always prepared and doesn't complain about his role. He also does the dirty work that doesn't get credited in a boxscore, and he combines with Wall to make a formidable defensive tandem up top. 

"Temp didn't play that many minutes before. Temp is a hard-working, hustle player whose now getting his time and showing you that he should play more," said Jared Dudley, in his first year in Washington. "We have to be a scrappy-type team. We're not a pretty team where you know we're going to throw these lobs and stuff like that. We have to be able to get charges, throw-aheads, get us to the free throw line is crucial. Temp, I keep saying his name, is providing a huge lift for us."

Praise like that for Temple is common in the locker room. He plays for the league minimum, just over $1 million for a veteran of his experience. He's what's called a "glue guy," a sturdy ingredient required to hold the other parts together. 

"When he’s in the starting lineup he’s going to get easy shots. He’s going to get the ball in transition," Wall said. "He doesn’t have to be the main scorer and guys are not worrying about him as much. That’s great for us because he’s able to lock down guys on the other end and also make open shots. With the second unit it’s a situation where he’s not getting those open looks or having those opportunities to attack as much. When a lot of guys are keying in on me in the pick-and-roll, he’s able to shoot them with confidence."

A favorite of coach Randy Wittman, Temple heard his message loud and clear.

"Witt said before last game, come out thinking this is going to be the best game you ever played  and I’ve done that two games in a row. I had 21 last game," Temple said. "We needed it. With Gary Neal being out I needed to score, be a little more aggressive.

"I haven’t been shooting the ball great this year. Jared has been tremendous. But John is John. He’s going to create so much they’re going to stick to him especially since we’re so depleted. We just got to continue to be ready to shoot. Maybe the next few games we might be able to open up that paint a little bit more. … No way they’re going to continue to stay out with us with John creating havoc the way he is." 

RELATED: Add a bone spur to John Wall's list of injuries





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It's hard to tell after three games how the Wizards and Pacers would match up in the playoffs

It's hard to tell after three games how the Wizards and Pacers would match up in the playoffs

The Wizards crossed off an important goal on Saturday night by beating the Indiana Pacers and therefore securing the season series. If the teams tie with the same regular season record, the Wizards will get the higher playoff seed. As of today, that would mean home court advantage in the first round.

Though the Wizards have beaten the Pacers in two of their three matchups this season, we only know so much about how they would match up in the playoffs. The first game between them didn't feature Pacers All-Star Victor Oladipo and John Wall didn't play in any of the three games. The Pacers were without both Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis on Saturday night.

Given the Pacers underwent so much change over the summer, there is no real data to go off of from before this season. They are a completely different team with Oladipo leading the way and Paul George now in Oklahoma City.


There are reasons to believe, however, that the Wizards would fare well against the Pacers over the course of a seven-game series. For one, they figured out how to slow Oladipo and his teammate Bojan Bogdanovic on Saturday night. Both had killed the Wizards in previous matchups.

Oladipo was held to 18 points, over five points below his season average of 23.5. He had four turnovers, shot 7-for-16 (43.7%) and finished a -18 in a game the Pacers lost by seven.

The Wizards had some success with Tomas Satoransky guarding Oladipo. Satoransky is 6-foot-7 with long arms. He was able to recover on several occasions to alter Oladipo's shots.

Satoransky and Bradley Beal also did a good job keeping pace with Oladipo on the fastbreak. The Pacers had only four fastbreak points in the game. Oladipo is especially dangerous in the open court.

“We just made sure that we were aggressive with him and made sure he saw a lot of bodies in the paint," Beal said. "The last game, he got a lot of easy ones in transition. We just made sure that we got back on the shot, loaded to the ball and forced the other guys to attack.”

For Bogdanovic, it was about limiting open shots from the perimeter. Bogdanovic had 11 points, three below his season average and had four turnovers. Beal and Otto Porter stripped Bogdanovic for steals and Marcin Gortat took a charge on one play in the third quarter.


But it was all about taking away the outside shot. Bogdanovic only hit one shot in the first half and it was a three. The only reason he got it off is because Kelly Oubre, Jr. lost his balance backing up. That gave Bogdanovic the window he needed. Otherwise, Oubre helped frustrate the former Wizards small forward. So did Gortat and Ian Mahinmi, who did a good job covering their teammates off screens.

The Pacers are an average offensive team, ranking 16th in points per game and 14th in offensive rating. They are better defensively, ranking ninth-best in opponents points per game and 12th in defensive efficiency.

If the Wizards can limit Oladipo and Bogdanovic, the Pacers' two leading scorers, they should have a good shot at beating the Pacers in the playoffs. Beyond them, the Pacers are thin in the scoring department. Turner only averages 13.6 points and no one else beyond him can consistently make an opposing defense pay for mistakes. Conversely, several Wizards players have given the Pacers major trouble through three games this season.

Gortat, who had 18 points and eight rebounds on Saturday, has averaged 13 points and eight rebounds on 57.7 percent shooting against Indiana. Kelly Oubre, Jr., who had 16 points in 18 minutes, has averaged 15.5 points and is shooting 50 percent from the field.


In addition to those guys, Markieff Morris, Porter, Mike Scott, Mahinmi and Satoransky are all shooting over 50 percent against the Pacers. Satoransky is shooting 71.4 percent through three games.

The Wizards have the pieces to counter what the Pacers do best. Indiana is seventh in three-point percentage, but the Wizards are the best team in basketball in opponents three-point percentage. The Pacers are built around an All-Star guard, but the Wizards have two All-Star guards. The Pacers have a collection of talented wing players, but so do the Wizards.

"Hypothetically, I do like Indiana," Beal said. "I like how we match up with Indiana and I feel like there is a lot of stuff that we can take advantage of. In a lot of categories, I think we can win them."

Add it all up and the Wizards have every reason to feel confident if they see the Pacers in the posteason. Keep that in mind because they very well could meet up in the spring.

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' important win over Pacers, including Kelly Oubre's big dunk

5 must-see moments from Wizards' important win over Pacers, including Kelly Oubre's big dunk

Here are five plays or moments from the Wizards' 109-102 win over the Pacers on Saturday night that are worth revisiting... 

1. The Wizards took care of business against the Pacers on Saturday night and in doing so earned an important advantage in the playoff race. They won the season series and therefore own a tiebreaker for playoff seeding and currently that would mean home court advantage in the first round if the playoffs began today.

The Wizards took control early and part of that effort were five first-half assists by Bradley Beal. He ended up with 19 points, but some of his best plays were passes.

On this one, he executed a perfect pick-and-roll with Marcin Gortat:


2. This was another pretty pass to Gortat. Tomas Satoransky, who had 12 points and eight assists, fed Gortat with a nice reach-around pass on a play that featured some impressive ball movement overall:

3. This was a great moment. The Wizards had a member of the military surprise his niece on the court. She literally did not see it coming:


4. These last two plays are dunks by Kelly Oubre, Jr., who finished with 16 points. On this play, he cut through the and threw down with authority:

5. This dunk was set up by a beautiful pass from Ramon Sessions. It traveled about three-quarters of the court and Oubre did the rest:

The Wizards now have three days off before their next game as they sit fourth in the Eastern Conference. Things are trending positive for the Wizards as the playoff race heats up.

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