The inside game has been missing with the Wizards for months, and it wasn't until recently that coach Scott Brooks made a concerted effort to get Marcin Gortat the early post touch in each half.
Thursday, he shot 7-for-7 and finished with 16 points in a 106-103 win at the New York Knicks as John Wall fed him. Gortat aggressively went at Marshall Plumlee on that first possession, sank the turnaround jump shot and it was a smooth night. His seven field goals were the most he'd made since Feb. 10 vs. the Indiana Pacers.
"I'm looking probably at two, three, four shots a game," said Gortat about the games when he's not involved immediately in the offense. "Coach tried to get me going early. We all know if we have an inside game we definitely don’t have to worry about the outside game because John and Brad (Beal) are going to take care of that."
Wall and Beal combined for 49 points. Beal had the final five points to break open a score that was tied at 101 and 103 in the final minute.
Gortat has had tough sledding since the All-Star break. His last double-double came during an overtime win at the Portland Trail Blazers on March 11. It was just his fourth game scoring in double figures since March 3.
And despite being in sync with Wall, Gortat only grabbed three rebounds. The Knicks pounded them 20-9 on the offensive glass.
With Markieff Morris (foot) being out, the Wizards had to establish a post presence with somebody. Brooks went away from those early touches to Gortat because he wanted more movement in the offense, feeling that the Wizards became bogged down with isos and post-ups.
Morris and Gortat don't finish at a high percentage on those plays, but at times they have matchup advantages they'll need to exploit more. The game plan is likely to change often to cut down on predictabliity with seven-game playoff series on tap.
Gortat played some of his best defensive basketball in a long time in the second half of a comeback win over the Charlotte Hornets earlier in the week. He'll have a few more games to right himself.