The true test in Otto Porter's breakout season is here, and if maximizing his earning potential in free agency this summer is of any importance he has to respond to how teams will begin defending him differently to minmize his impact.
The New York Knicks never will be mistaken for being capable defensively, but even they were disciplined enough to prevent the 6-8 small forward from hurting them.
"He got some looks. Definitely teams are scouting Otto different. They're staying at home," Wizards coach Scott Brooks said after Porter's 10 points in a 117-101 victory in which he failed to make at least one three-pointer for the first time in nine games. "He’s the best, or one of the best three-point shooters in the league. So they’re not going to give him a lot of open looks. Some nights he’s not going to have the looks like he’s going to have other nights, but I thought he just stayed with it, ran his routes, got to the spots and then John (Wall) did a good job of finding him in the third quarter."
Porter, who shoots an NBA-leading 46.2% from three, went scoreless in the first half. But the flip side of it is Bradley Beal was able to inflict damage with a game-high 28 points on 18 shots in just 31 minutes. Markieff Morris had 24 points off just 14 shots and 10 rebounds.
Carmelo Anthony took away Porter's first look from deep with a strong close out in the first quarter. Towards the end of the period, Wall floated a pass to him over an area screen from Marcin Gortat and Porter was closed out by center Kyle O'Quinn.
Porter made the correct read, however, because that opened up Gortat on the dive to the basket for a layup. He earned the assist en route to Gortat finishing 7-for-7 shooting. It's another example of how a defense is intent on taking away an aspect of the game but being vulnerable elsewhere.
What has separated Beal is that he faces even more aggressive coverages from defenses and is not only scoring 20-plus points but creating for others and generating "hockey" assists by moving the ball out of traffic to find shooters like Porter.
"A lot of teams usually just help off Otto's side," Wall said. "They're not helping off his side as much. But he does a great job of still cutting to the basket, then getting out in transition. Keef and March and Jason (Smith) and all those guys set good screens and the weakside has to help, pick-and-choose what you're going to give up. Then he does a great job of attacking the basket off the slot."
The mid-range game was there for Porter in the third quarter where he did all of his scoring. He went back to being the reliable, steady Porter who did a lot of other small things but nothing dramatic. Porter had six rebounds and three assists