The idea Jodie Meeks would hit a game-tying three on the road against the Boston Celtics in the closing seconds of regulation would have seemed improbable, at best, just a short time ago. But there he was on Wednesday night, jumping for joy at TD Garden and high-fiving Otto Porter who set him up with the assist.
It was Meeks' best moment so far in his short time with the Wizards which has mostly been characterized by shooting woes and hopes for a trade out of Washington before the February deadline. In just a few short weeks since then, Meeks has effectively turned his season around and earned some trust from the coaching staff along the way.
Meeks' shot going in against the Celtics was a reminder of that, but also the mere fact he was in that position with just seconds remaining and the Wizards down by three. Head coach Scott Brooks kept him on the floor, knowing he needed shooters in that situation. And Porter passed Meeks the ball, knowing he was capable of making the shot.
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Those subtle endorsements were not lost on Meeks.
"Just to have the confidence in my teammates means a lot," he said. "No matter how many shots I miss, I’m going to have confidence to feel like the next one is going in."
It has been a tale of two seasons for Meeks. In his first 41 games, he shot just 35 percent from the field and 30.3 percent from three. In his last 25 games, Meeks has shot 47.1 percent from the field and 37.1 percent from three, exactly his career average.
Though many of his numbers are still down from last year, his season field goal percentage (39.2) is rising and not far off from what he shot in 2016-17 with the Magic (40.2).
As much focus as Meeks deserves for his shot, there were a lot of elements to the play that led to its result. For one, Porter's presence of mind to pass to Meeks in the corner rather than go up for a layup appears brilliant in hindsight.
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At the time, not all of Porter's teammates expected it.
"I was thinking 'what the hell are you thinking, Otto,' because he had a layup," guard Bradley Beal said. "It was a great IQ play. That’s being aware of who’s on the floor and a very unselfish play."
Markieff Morris made the first pass on the inbound to Porter who was cutting into the lane. His twin brother Marcus, a forward for the Celtics, was drawn to Porter and left Meeks open.
Marcus made a mistake and Markieff could only laugh about it in the wake of the Wizards' win.
"I know my brother feels just how I felt, giving up a three," Markieff said, noting how he made a key mistake against Kyrie Irving the last time the two teams squared off in February.
Marcus may have lost focus for a moment. He may have doubted Meeks' ability to make the shot. But he got it to go down and the Wizards' confidence in Meeks will only grow because of it.
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