It's only two games into the preseason, but Friday's loss highlights how important it is to not go overboard when it comes to Otto Porter, a third year small forward who is projected to be the Wizards' starter when the season begins.
He put forth a valiant effort in defending Carmelo Anthony in the first quarter, contesting his five shots and making the game difficult early, but after that it was one-sided in favor of the New York Knicks who went on to win 115-104.
Anthony had 21 points and made 10 of 15 shots. He was pulling the trigger on pull-ups in transition before Porter, or anyone else for the Wizards, could get to him. That proved to be the difference in a game that was close in the first half that quickly got away.
"As we all know, that's a tough cover," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said of Porter's assignment. "Might be the longest he's ever played against him in a game. Hopefully, a good learning experience."
Anthony used his superior strength to move Porter in the mid-post as he backed him down. While Porter had 22 points in making 8 of 10 shots vs. the Philadelphia 76ers in the opener, they don't have a player of Anthony's All-Star caliber to worry about. It's much easier to get into the offensive flow when not having to expend so much energy on Anthony, who used to have fits playing against Trevor Ariza when he played the same position for the Wizards.
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Porter's output was modest Friday, nine points on 4 of 11 shooting, but he has the height and even greater length than Ariza at 6-8. He also is better off the dribble than his predecessor, creating for others and shooting on the move.
Still, these are exhibitions and the Wizards will be seeing the Knicks for their regular-season home opener Oct. 31.
"It's preseason. The way we played defense tonight we got to compete no matter what, but we didn't play him the same we'd play him in the regular season," John Wall said after the overall lackluster performance by the Wizards in defending Anthony. "You still got to be committed to help, when it's time to help, and get back on defense and get back in transition and not turn the ball over."
The likes of Anthony, LeBron James and Kevin Durant play the spot that Porter will have to defend, and it's why the Wizards lined up so much help behind him with Alan Anderson, Jared Dudley and rookie Kelly Oubre.
A good performance like vs. Philadelphia doesn't mean Porter has arrived nor does a shaky one vs. New York mean that all is lost. He just has his work cut out for him and key for the Wizards is Porter succeeding in these situations more often than not.