Back in December, when the Wizards played the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City, rookie Corey Kispert had some family fly in, only to attend a game he did not appear in. It was a tough lesson for him about the harsh reality of the NBA.
On Saturday, however, Kispert had a much different experience playing in Portland against the Blazers. It's the closest NBA team to where he grew up in nearby Washington state and he had 35 members of his family and friends travel for the occasion.
According to Kispert, most came from the Seattle area. Some arrived from Spokane, others from Yakima, Washington and others from central Oregon. This time, they got to see him play.
Kispert played well, too, with 15 points, five rebounds and two blocks. He shot 6-for-9 from the field and 3-for-6 from three in a career-high 39 minutes.
"It means a lot. I had a big family section there and a lot of people I don't know who support me. So, it was really nice to hear [the cheers]," Kispert said afterward.
"It sucks we couldn't win, that's what I wanted for the cherry on top. But it was kind of that silver lining because it will be really special every year when I come out here, no matter where I'm playing."
The Wizards lost the game, 127-118, to fall to 29-37 on the season. The losing has been another adjustment for Kispert, simply because he rarely lost in college at Gonzaga. He played four years for the Zags and lost a total of 12 games, meaning he's already tripled that in just over three-quarters of his first NBA season.
"It's probably one of the biggest adjustments I've had to make coming into the NBA, dealing with these low moments, Kispert said. "You kind of learn from guys who have been there and done that. You learn how to shower games off and take the good things from the bad."
Though the Wizards have now lost six of their last eight games, Kispert has continued to trend upward this season. Over his last 13 games since taking the injured Bradley Beal's spot in the starting lineup, Kispert is averaging 11.5 points per game while shooting 37.9% from three (6.7 3PA/g).
Kispert playing well in Portland perhaps shouldn't have come as a surprise, as he's shot the ball better on the road this season than at home. He has shot 47.3% from the field and 39% from three in away games compared to 41.2% from the field and 30.2% from deep at home.
It's a statistical anomaly he is aware of.
"I have noticed it. I don't know why that's the case. Nothing really changes besides which bed I sleep in. It might just be backdrop, or I don't know the food we have or something. I've noticed it and I'm continuing to try to figure out why that's the case," he said.
It's likely just a coincidence that will even out over time. There's no reason why he would feel more comfortable shooting on the road than at home. Well, unless the game is in Portland.