The two Wizards players who will routinely get the most clean looks, because of how defenses are consumed with John Wall and Bradley Beal, are Otto Porter and Markieff Morris. Both made the Memphis Grizzlies pay a heavy price for their coverages Wednesday in a 104-101 win at Verizon Center, the 13th in a row at home for the Wizards.
Porter tied Wall for a team-high 25 points, but he also knocked down a career-high six three-pointers. The two biggest came in succession midway through the fourth quarter for a 95-83 lead. Though the Grizzlies would make a run to cut the deficit to two, the Wizards would hold on after leading by as many as 19 points.
"That made them a lot dangerous. I didn't even know he was on the scouting report today. I didn't hear two words about him today in the shootaround," said Tony Allen, Memphis' best perimter defender responsible for marking Beal for most of the game. "It was just a lot about Beal and Wall. Beal and Wall. We got to pay better attention to our opponents and have a little better focus coming into games. ... When the others, guys like him, Morris, be highlights of the day, there is going to be pressure on your defense."
Beal was held in check by Allen and company as they sent multiple players at him to keep the lethal shooting guard off the three-point line. But Beal still had his chances after Allen fouled out with 6;16 left. He shot 1-for-7 on threes. Porter was 6-for-8.
Wall assisted Porter on five of the long balls. And when the Grizzlies made it uncomfortable again, Wall took advantage of being switched onto by Marc Gasol by getting layups.
"Every night he comes in and does everything he's supposed to do," Wall said of Porter, who will be a restricted free agent after completing the fourth and final year of his rookie scale contract. "Rebounding, cutting to the basket, being in the right place at the right time, knocking down shots and even when he's not knocking them down he still believes in himself. We believe in him. We just try to put him in situations where he can excel."
Morris had his second consecutive double-double, a first for him in Washington since being acquired in a trade in Feburary 2015, with 17 points and 12 rebounds. JaMychal Green and Chandler Parsons couldn't handle him without help. And when Gasol was crossmatched on Morris, he faced him up and used his quicker first step to get the shots he wanted.
Morris wasn't as effective in the second half as he seemed to rush his shots rather than kicking the ball out and resetting to take more advantage of the defense. But in combination with Porter, he contributed to a 66-point first half.
All season, most teams have gambled off Porter and he has cashed in. When he hits the market, that'll be more literal in the summer.
"You have to pick your poison on the pick-and-roll," Gasol said. "When the initial action is not played correctly, and they get to the paint either with a drive or a pass, somebody has to help and you have to pick whether to come off Bradley Beal or to come off Porter. So you pick the one guy, and he got hot on threes and got going."
Based on their expereince Oct. 30, Porter was the right guy. When the Wizards lost 102-93 in overtime in Memphis, Porter was 0-for-5 from three-point range. Allen was out injured so this was the first time he's seen this version of the small forward.
"He is what the NBA has become. He is a Swiss army knife. He can play multiple positions," Grizzlies coach David Fizdale said of Porter, who had been silent after scoring 17 in the first half. "The more he makes his threes, the deadlier he becomes but he does so much other stuff for them."
Beal was held to 12 points on 4-for-14 shooting but Wall still was able to get his with 25 points, 13 assists and two steals. Porter made up the difference.
"The way he was shooting, he should have shot 10 more," Wizards coach Scott Brooks said. "The way their defense was collapsing on John, he made the right reads."