How many times has Drew Gooden stepped on the court for the Wizards to be that missing ingredient? It has taken place countless times, starting when he was signed as a free agent late in the 2013-14 season to get them over .500 to a No. 5 seed to last season when he shot 46.2% from three-point range in the playoffs to what he did in Monday's 114-110 upset of the Chicago Bulls.
Gooden, playing for just the 10th time this season after being limited by back soreness and a right calf strain, had his best game with 10 points, 12 rebounds and three assists in just 27 minutes.
"The want to. The effort," Gooden said when explaining his play. "Simple."
The Wizards had 13 offensive boards and had a 21-7 edge in second-chance points as they won without Marcin Gortat. They also were able to have a 20-13 edge on fast-break points and 46-42 in paint points.
"The key was rebounding," coach Randy Wittman said. "This was the No. 1 rebounding team (in the NBA) and actually we had more offensive rebounds. ... We were able to get outlets. John (Wall) was able to push."
Nene, despite having just two rebounds, impacted those overall numbers, too. His 14 points are just the tip of the iceberg when the 7-footer is on.
"He gives us a dimension we don't have when he's not out there," Wittman said of Nene. "His ability to play low post, his ability to play high post, his passing ability."
At 6-10 and nowadays more of a finesse player, Gooden can do dirty work in different ways. He beat multiple defenders for Chicago to get to the loose ball. Gooden was 0-for-4 on threes, but for most of his career his bread and butter was hustle play around the rim.
"Guys are still playing banged up," Gooden said of his 17-19 team. "We got to make a strong, hard push before the All-Star break and heal during that time off."
The Wizards have a pick-and-roll big in Gortat, a versatile facilitator from either block who they can run offense through in Nene, a face-up hustle player in Kris Humphries and a busy-body with three-point range in Gooden.
They have options to combat any style of play which was why the roster was restructured this way. Health, of course, is the one variable that they can't control but it's why they're confident they'll get it together soon.
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