The call for a consistent third scorer has gone unanswered for the Wizards for most of the season, with the anticipation that Otto Porter would rise to the occasion.
Dormant for most of the calendar year, he dropped 21 points in Sunday's 113-99 win vs. the Cleveland Cavaliers. He made three consecutive three-point shots to start the third quarter, helping Washington almost double what had been a 63-54 lead in less than two minutes.
“It definitely felt good. Just knocked down shots. ... Defense kind of got us started though," said Porter, who shot 6 of 9 overall to go with five rebounds and three assists. "We were able to get stops and rebounds and push on the break. I know John (Wall) got a couple easy ones and he was just able to find everybody.”
Porter hasn't produced like this since Feb. 6 when he had 20 points and eight assists in a loss to the Charlotte Hornets. Eighteen of those points, however, came in the second quarter. Porter was absent in the other three in what should've been a career output. Sunday's result was just his second 20-point game since Jan. 1.
“He can’t fall back into playing 28 minutes and having one or two shots," said coach Randy Wittman, who has been unhappy with the small forwards' lack of aggressiveness on the offense end for most of the season. "He’s too good. He’s too good. It hurts our team when that happens. So let’s keep him there.”
MORE WIZARDS: SUPPORTING CAST LIFTING WALL
In consecutive games a week ago, Porter only took three shots. With Bradley Beal now coming off the bench because he's still on a minutes restriction, the Wizards have had to rely heavily on Wall and Marcin Gortat to carry the offensive load. Sometimes, Jared Dudley steps in to fill in as the No. 3 option because he's a top-5 three-point shooter in the NBA. Garrett Temple has started for Beal at shooting guard but to expect him to provide bucks consistently each game isn't realistic, either.
That's why Porter, who is in his third NBA season and starting for the first time, is being looked to even more. Alan Anderson is now playing behind him off the bench, too, so his minutes will take a hit. But it's what Porter does with those minutes that matter.
Porter is more of a mid-range shooter but is expected to make corner threes in this offense. He's shooting just 33.3% from the arc but tied a career high for makes by shooting 4 of 6 against Cleveland.
Porter isn't comfortable just catching and shooting the ball while standing still. He prefers to be moving to get a rhythm on the shot which proved to be the difference. He also avoided the bad habit of looking down at his feet to make sure he's behind the line before shooting.
“It was great. He got us off to a great start in the third. He was really shooting it with confidence and we just need him to continue to do that," Beal said of Porter. "He is definitely capable of it, and that is the guy that we have seen all year and that we have been hoping for, and we just need him to continue to be aggressive and I am sure he is going to do it.”