Just as Jason Smith started to play his best basketball off the bench for the Wizards, making both of his shot attempts in a 122-108 win over the Detroit Pistons, he limped off the court after a collision. He's questionable going into today's game vs. the L.A. Clippers.
Smith appeared to bump knees but it turns out it was a right hamstring injury. That's better than the worst-case scenario from a 30-year-old who has had a history of knee injuries. The last one came in 2014. He tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee to end his 2008-09 season before it began.
Overall, the bench has played so much better and it goes beyond the 30 points they combined to score led by Marcus Thornton's 11 vs. Detroit. They're maintaining leads and even extending them. They're getting quality looks in the half-court and not heaving up prayers to beat the shot clock. That includes Smith on the pick-and-pop action.
“Unfortunately Jason tweaked his hamstring. Don't know how long that will be. We'll see how it feels," said coach Scott Brooks after Friday's game. "We'll wait to the next day to really see how he feels and we'll go from there but I think our bench is doing a good job. We're still missing Ian (Mahinmi) but I think Trey (Burke) is finding a nice little roll. Marcus has done a good job. Kelly (Oubre) is really growing up in front of our eyes and that's what you want your young players to do. By challenging him every day. We're going to keep doing that, you're going to see growth. There is going to be spikes and there is going to be a little dropoffs. We're going to try to eliminate those dropoffs as much as can and just keep him growing and becoming a better defensive player. I think his offense is going to get better.”
Mahinmi, Brooks indicated before Friday's game, hasn't practiced with the Wizards and they'll have to see him do that before he has any chance to return from tendinitis in his right knee. They didn't practice Saturday which means Mahinmi won't play Sunday. If they do not have Smith, who at 7-0 is a forward/center, that could force rookie Daniel Ochefu into the rotation unless Brooks opts to go with more small llineups. Starting center Marcin Gortat already is playing a career-high 35.4 minutes per game. Kelly Oubre (concussion) is out, too.
Smith's mid-range shot has started come come along. He was 5-for-9 for a season-high 12 points and seven rebounds in Wedneday's 109-106 win over the Charlotte Hornets.
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