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Morning tip: Wizards' trust factor with Otto Porter grows


Morning tip: Wizards' trust factor with Otto Porter grows

The third scoring option is a moving target, though more times than not it'll likely be Otto Porter who comes after John Wall and Bradley Beal. And even when he's not, Porter could still have as much impact on the outcome as anybody.

He's coming off a win vs. the Orlando Magic in which he had just nine points on 4-for-13 shooting, but added 10 rebounds, four assists, four steals and a block. Porter had the highest plus-minus of anyone on the floor (+20). No one else was close. With Beal out (left shoulder contusion), Kris Humphries picked up the scoring slack with a season-high 23 points as he was the recipient of repeated open looks because of the good ball movement.

“I can always come back from a bad shooting game. It’s just to stay confident and continue to play defense," said Porter, who is just 7-for-29 from three-point range, or 24%, for the season. "That’s something that propels my offense."

After scoring five points in the first quarter of a 108-99 win over Orlando, Porter cooled off. But his activity, moving off the ball and creating for his teammates is why he played a team-high 36 minutes. He had an shovel pass in traffic to Marcin Gortat for a layup late in the second quarter to help get the struggling center going. Porter's last two baskets can off layups in the third quarter for a 74-70 lead.


"He does a great job of pushing the pace. He’s comfortable putting the ball on the floor and making plays for other people," said Wall, the Wizards' top playmaker. "Always going to be averaging around nine or 10 rebounds because he’s always in the right position at the right time. He’s always in helpside defense. He’s does the little things on the basketball court that people don’t get noticed for.”

When Porter was taken No. 3 overall in the draft in 2013, this is the kind of player the Wizards expected, a utilityman who can fill up the stat sheet regardless of how bad he's shooting. He's a more athletic and versatile version of Trevor Ariza who left as a free agent two seasons ago. Just as important, when his shot isn't falling he can't lose his offensive aggression which is when coach Randy Wittman feels compelled to put him on the bench.

“Defensively, rebounding, making the right plays. All those things. He did a mixture of all those," Wittman said of his performance vs. Orlando. "That’s kind of who he is. His activity level, getting his hands on balls, making the right cuts from an offensive standpoint.

“We act like that should be surprising when somebody continues to play through a bad shooting night. I expect that out of everybody. That’s how you play in this league. If you become a player that when you don’t shoot the ball very good you’re going to (stop doing other things), how am I going to play you? No, it doesn’t surprise me. I want all out players to do that.”

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Markieff Morris set tone for Wizards, who finally got back to 'Death Row mentality'

Markieff Morris set tone for Wizards, who finally got back to 'Death Row mentality'

Perhaps Toronto and their fans would disagree, but through two games the first round playoff series between the Wizards and Raptors had been relatively uneventful, maybe even boring to the casual observer. For those who have watched the Wizards in recent years, something just seemed off with them.

Not only were Bradley Beal and Otto Porter struggling to score, but the energy and grit we're used to from the Wizards in the postseason just wasn't there. Three minutes into Game 3 on Friday night, that all changed.

Wizards forward Markieff Morris got tangled with Raptors rookie OG Anunoby and fell to the ground. He rose up, shoved Anunoby and gave Serge Ibaka a push for good measure. It cost Morris a technical, but he wasn't ejected. From there, the tone was set.

This was to be a physical game and the Wizards were going to make sure of it. That's how they prefer to play and that nastiness had been missing thus far in this series.

"I think OG [Anunoby] did not know the scouting report because he did not know that Keef is one of the people you do not mess with in this world," forward Kelly Oubre, Jr. said. "He will learn.”

The fireworks didn't end there. Beal and Jonas Valanciunas got into it and so did John Wall and Anunoby, and then Wall and Ibaka.

The Wizards made a name for themselves in the 2016-17 season when they won 49 games and were one win away from the conference finals as a team that would instigate contact and talk trash. They prided themselves on being old school in that regard and were praised for it by former NBA tough guys like Paul Pierce and Stephen Jackson.

This season, they just haven't been able to do it as often.

"We have been there at spurts throughout the year, we just have not been there consistently," Oubre said. "Now it is do or die. We just need to bring that Death Row mentality.”

Oubre also joked that rapper Drake started it all by sitting courtside in Toronto and talking trash. Truthfully, their backs were against the wall and they had no choice but to punch back.

The Wizards entered Friday's game down 0-2 to the Raptors with Game 2 a dispirited blowout. If they went down 0-3, they would essentially have been dead in the water. No team has come back from that deficit in NBA history.

This time, they weren't going to go down without a fight.

"It sounds crazy, but sometimes we need that. The crazy part is that it's always [Morris]," center Marcin Gortat said. "If you see your teammate fighting, I'm going to fight with him. That's the bottom-line."

"We came out tonight with an edge about ourselves," Beal said. "Keef is a bully... we are physical team." 

As for Morris, the enforcer himself, he let his actions speak for themselves. He didn't take the bait on most questions, but did wear a 'Death Row D.C.' shirt during his media availability. Morris came up with that nickname last season to convey the toughness he wants the Wizards to play with.

"We need some physicality," Morris said. "I feel like when we were in Toronto, they were doing everything too freely. This kind of set the tone for the whole series... we need to keep our same mean mentality. If they wanna fight, we will fight."

The Wizards fought the Hawks and Celtics last year tooth-and-nail and often used physical play to their advantage. It worked in Game 3 against the Raptors. Now the Wizards will have to counter however Toronto chooses to respond.




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Physicality, the spark from Oubre; 5 must-see moments from Wizards Game 3 win

Physicality, the spark from Oubre; 5 must-see moments from Wizards Game 3 win

The Washington Wizards wasted no time in their playoff return to Capital One Arena to jump back into this series. Now behind 2-1 to the Toronto Raptors, Washington is back in the series. Here are the top moments from the 122-103 win:

1. It got physical early.

Is it bad luck to bring back #DeathrowDC? It only took the Wizards and Markieff Morris three minutes to get into a shoving match with OG Anunoby and the Raptors. Double technicals were both issued after this scuffle but it set the tone for the remainder of the game. From here the Wizards exerted their physicality.

2. Kelly Oubre providing the spark off the bench

Early on it was creeping toward another outstanding Raptors offensive performance, like we saw in Game 1 and Game 2. They were up 27-18 with two minutes left in the first quarter. Once the bench got their first opportunity to get into the game, Kelly Oubre Jr. provided that spark to get back the Wizards into it. In the midst of a 14-2 run from the first going into the second quarter, Oubre had four of his 13 points, including a monstrous dunk off of a loose ball.

3. Beal to Wall, back to Beal

For those that do not believe that John Wall and Bradley Beal are two of the best passers in the league, look no further than this play. Not only does Beal thread the needle, but Wall has the wherewithal to get the ball back to Beal for the lay-in.

4. A fire was lit under John Wall

It wasn’t just the double-double (28 points, 14 assists), playoff John Wall is officially back. He made that evident with countless hustle plays especially on defense to turn this game around. Moments later, the Wizards pushed the lead up to 20 for the first time and had Capital One Arena rocking.

5. Ty Lawson’s buzzer-beater

When playing the Raptors, you can never rule out a comeback. Throughout the third quarter Toronto kept nipping at the Wizards’ lead, but newly acquired Ty Lawson shut down any threat of that heading into the fourth.