NEW YORK -- If Randy Wittman had it his way, he'd probably force Otto Porter to watch video of Tuesday's game. He'd have him focus on rookie Kristaps Porzingis of the New York Knicks, who had the assertiveness that he'd like the third-year forward to tap into more often.
The Wizards won 111-108, but after being held to four points in the first half Porzingis erupted for 14 in the third quarter alone. The Knicks went from trailing by 16 to taking the lead several times in the fourth quarter before falling short.
“He’s going to be a true player in this league. He didn’t really have a stellar first half. He came out with confidence in the third quarter. That is the thing I like," Wittman said of Porzingis, who finished with 20 points and denied John Wall twice on drives to the basket in the final four minutes. "I talk about we miss a couple shots (and sulk). You got to think ‘I’m going to make five in a row now.’ That’s kind of how he does. I thought we did a pretty good job frustrating him in the first half and he came out in the third quarter and said, ‘Screw this.’"
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The Knicks used Porzingis at center late in the game which forced Wittman's hand to go with a small lineup that featured Porter as the stretch power forward with Jared Dudley at center.
Porter was mostly invisible after a fast start, which has become a bad habit such as when he scored 18 of 20 points in the second quarter in a loss to the Charlotte Hornets. He defended Carmelo Anthony well down the stretch as he forced him to hit difficult, contested turnaround jump shots that he still converted.
Porter's three-pointer with 5:47 remaining gave the Wizards the breathing room needed for a 96-92 lead. But he played almost 11 minutes in the fourth and that was the only shot he took, getting no rebounds, assists or steals and not attempting any foul shots.
That represented a 12-minute drought for Porter between field goals made as he finished 5 of 6 for 13 points. Porzingis started the game 1 of 3 in the first half. He shot 7 of 14 in the second half to finish with 20 points.
As a fellow NBA head coach, Scott Brooks understands what Tyronn Lue of the Cleveland Cavaliers is going through. As his former teammate, Ramon Sessions knows how tough Lue is.
Both members of the Wizards shared their reactions after Monday's practice to the news Lue is stepping away from the Cavs to deal with a health issue. Both expressed hope Lue will not be out long as the NBA continues its trek towards the playoffs.
"All of our thoughts are with him," Brooks said. "You hope that it's nothing serious. Health is the most important [thing]. The game is secondary."
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"Prayers out to T-Lue," said Sessions, who played with Lue in Milwaukee. "It's one of those things where you've gotta take care of yourself at the end of the day. Him stepping away is the best thing."
Lue's illness has been a mystery to doctors, according to a statement he released on the Cavaliers' website. He has dealt with chest pains and other symptoms while also struggling to sleep. The hope is that having time off will allow him to get the rest he needs.
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Brooks knows firsthand how difficult it is to get sleep during the regular season as a coach.
"You just have to figure out ways to get your rest. Some days are better than others. Sometimes you think after a good win you can have a good night's rest or sometimes it's the opposite. It's just hard to get rest. You're traveling in different timezones. You are emotional after games. You eat late. There are a lot of factors that go into it. We don't have a set schedule every night. I have a good staff and I rely on them," he said.
Lue, 40, will be replaced by associate head coach Larry Drew in the interim. The Cavs happen to be in a tight playoff race with the Wizards and other teams in the Eastern Conference battling for position.
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On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, host Chase Hughes was joined by Bullets/Wizards legend Phil Chenier ahead of his jersey retirement set for this upcoming weekend on March 23.
Chenier looked back on his playing and broadcasting career and told great stories. He also shared some memories of the 1978 championship as the franchise gets ready to honor its 40th anniversary.
You can listen to the episode right here:
You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!