The past week hasn't been easy for Marcin Gortat, who had been called out by his coach for being "soft" and it left him feeling sore. Saturday, it started to look like another bad outing before things turned and the Wizards got a 108-99 win at Verizon Center, ending a three-game losing streak. He still seems bothered, but only a little.
"It was actually a good week," said Gortat, who finished with his second double-double of the season with 13 points and 10 rebounds against the Orlando Magic. "My check came in."
Gortat is in the second year of a five-year deal that pays him $60 million. He'd only grabbed one defensive rebound in a 24-point loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder and it drew coach Randy Wittman's rage. Gortat fired back on Friday and made it clear he didn't like being called out.
"We won the game," said Gortat, who had trouble defending Nik Vucevic as he had 10 points in the first quarter alone for Orlando. "I'm still not there where I want to be. Missed a lot of shots, easy putbacks."
Gortat's saving grace was that he was able to get to the foul line six times in the first half to steady himself. Nene came in off the bench to battle Vucevic for position in the low post which slowed him down. He shot 3-for-11 for the last three quarters.
"We are more aggressive defensively. We're actually going through screens harder than usual. Hopefully we're going to maintain that," Gortat said. "John (Wall) played better today also, pushing transition. We looked good. Kristopher (Humphries) was outstanding raining those threes."
Humphries had a career-high five three-pointers en route to a season-high 23 points.
In the fourth quarter, Gortat's activity paid off. He made a foul shot to complete a three-point play that trimmed the Wizards' deficit to 90-89. He blocked a shot by Elfrid Payton, who he was defending on a switch. The 6-11 center then ran the floor and was able to tip in a missed layup by Garrett Temple for a 94-90 lead. A tap out of a missed shot by Otto Porter produced a second-chance shot for Wall whose jumper extended their lead to 101-94.
"It opens up a lot," Gortat said of Humphries' three-point shooting and the offense. "People are going to start finally opening up the paint for me. At some point they're going to realize it's better to give up two than three. That's going to be great but Kris got to continue to shoot like that."
Ultimately, when the Wizards play like this and don't just rely on Wall and Bradley Beal, who missed his second game in a row with a left shoulder contusion, they will be better off. Temple had 18 points. Wall had 15 points and 11 assists, Porter nine points and 10 rebounds and the bench contributed 30 points and 18 rebounds. The Wizards had consecutive losses last weekend where they totaled 50 turnovers. In this one, they had just 11.
"They're franchise players. There's going to be a lot of pressure on them. There's going to be a lot of responsibility on them. They're going to get open shots. They're going to get a lot of looks," said Gortat, referencing Wall and Beal who'd been the closers in fourth quarters. "They're going to take their shots but at the end of the day, especially for John, he's got to make sure he's going to create for everybody and get everybody involved. We got to move the ball. We got to hit the guy who's open. We got games, we got stretches where we playing the right way. We got games where people trying to do it on their own. You're not going to win a game like that in the NBA."