Marcin Gortat had an underappreciated, but uneven season with the Wizards

As the NBA evolves into a shooter’s league, traditional centers are quickly becoming extinct and Marcin Gortat is no exception. Once the Wizards traded for Markieff Morris during the 2015-2016 season, it was clear that the Wizards were shifting their focus away from muscle to spacing. And just this offseason, the Wizards made a run at Al Horford in hopes of putting four shooters around John Wall.

Even though traditional centers are fading away, Marcin Gortat managed to turn in his best season as a Wizard averaging a double-double for the year with 10.8 points and 10.4 rebounds. On top of that, the 33-year-old was the only Wizards player who played and started all 82 games this season.

Gortat was rock solid for a majority of the season. However, he went through a bit of a slump in late February and March as his numbers dipped to 7.3 points and 8.6 rebounds per contest. This happened to coincide with the Wizards’ team struggles so like years past, Gortat became the punching bag for Wizards faithful.

Things didn’t get easier for Gortat when the Wizards entered the playoffs as he had arguably the hardest individual matchups in both rounds. First, he had to guard the bruising Dwight Howard and then he had to try to lock down the rangy Al Horford.

Gortat struggled to score in the Atlanta series but managed double-digit rebounding numbers in four of the six games (including 18 rebounds in Game 4). In the second round against theCeltics, he was able to move more freely on the offensive end. He notched three double-doubles in the series with double-digit rebounding efforts in six of the seven games.

There’s no denying it, Gortat is getting older, but he’s adjusted to the evolving NBA. He’s not a stat stuffer anymore but performs many little things that don’t show up in the box score. This season, Gortat led the NBA in screens leading to baskets. So although he doesn’t get an assist per se, he’s accounting for a minimum of 12 additional points on a nightly basis.

He continues to make the most of his touches around the rim, making 68.9 percent of his attempts there this season. The issue here is that his touches and shot attempts went down from previous years. He only attempted 8.2 shots per game, the fewest of his career since arriving in Washington.

As the Wizards switched their offensive scheme, Gortat received fewer and fewer touches in the post as most of his points either came on pick-and-rolls or putbacks. In the rare instance that Gortat would get the ball in the post, it often felt like he needed to take the shot as he wasn’t sure when he’d touch the ball next. He struggled on those opportunities, shooting 46.2 percent in the paint and 40.9 percent in the midrange area.

Gortat isn’t in an ideal situation as he’s on the wrong side of 30 playing a position that is slowly dissolving. He mentioned in his exit interviews that he’ll talk with his agent this offseason to see if Washington is the best place for him as it’s clear that the Wizards are looking to get younger and more athletic at the center position.

His season didn’t end on a high note as he became less and less involved in the offense as the season wore on. However, his durability, rebounding, and ability to do the dirty work can’t be questioned.

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Wizards vs. Hawks Game 2 final score: Washington scrapes past Atlanta 109-101, takes 2-0 series lead

John Wall and Bradley Beal took over in the fourth quarter as the Wizards overcame a second half deficit and beat the Hawks, 109-101 to take a 2-0 series lead on Wednesday. The House of Guards combined for 63 points, led by Wall with 32 and Beal with 31. Marcin Gortat also notched another double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds as the Wizards protected home court.

Just like in Game 1, Washington was able to get out to an early lead in this one, using a 14-0 run to take a 16-6 lead midway through the first quarter. However, the refs were very loose with the whistle throughout the game and it hurt Washington as Markieff Morris and Otto Porter were sidelined with two early fouls.

The bench had a much better showing in the first half this time as Brandon Jennings hit a layup on a blocked Kelly Oubre dunk while Bogdanovic knocked down his first three of the series on the very next play as the Wizards built a cushion with their bench. But like the first quarter, the refs took over this quarter as they continued to blow the whistles.

Atlanta opted to go small to end the second quarter with Mike Muscala at center and Gortat made them pay. Gortat scored eight points in the period as the Wizards stretched the lead out to eight and led, 51-43 at halftime.

The stop and start play carried over into the second half as the refs continued to enjoy hearing themselves blow the whistle. The Wizards were in the penalty just 3:15 in the third quarter and Morris, Porter, and Oubre all picked up their fourth personal fouls during that time frame. The Hawks adjusted as they kept going with Millsap on the offensive end and the Wizards couldn’t do anything about it defensively fearing they’d get called for a foul. Millsap scored 14 in the period as the Wizards lost their eight-point lead and trailed 78-74 entering the fourth quarter.

Brandon Jennings picked the most opportune time as a Wizard to get hot. With the Wizards trailing by six, Jennings connected on three straight field goals followed by a drive and dish to Smith for the dunk to tie the game at 84.

The lead seesawed back and forth but Bradley Beal rose to the occasion and knocked down some big shots en route to 16 fourth quarter points to help Washington take the lead.

With the Wizards up three, John Wall poked the ball behind from Kent Bazemore and Otto Porter threw him a touchdown pass for a dunk as the Wizards took a 103-98 lead. On the next possession, John Wall found Bradley Beal who curled off a screen for a three-pointer for the dagger.

Wizards come up big when it counts most

For a majority of this one, it looked like the refs were getting in the Wizards’ heads, and you couldn’t blame them. The game had zero flow to it and Washington was looking for calls every time down the court. In the fourth quarter, that all changed as they took matters into their own hands. Bradley Beal came alive with 16 points in the money quarter including a three-pointer with under a minute to play to all but ice the game. John Wall was hitting jump shots, getting to the free-throw line, and came up with big defensive plays down the stretch.

It wasn’t pretty, but it’s very nice to see a game like this where there’s no flow and Washington was out of sync yet still found a way to win the game.

Jennings picks his best time of the year to get hot

With the Wizards down 84-78, Brandon Jennings picked the best time of his short career as a Wizard to get hot. Jennings knocked down three straight jumpers in as many possessions to pull the Wizards within two points. The next time down, Jennings would drive into the lane and find Jason Smith for an easy dunk as Washington tied the game at 84 in the fourth quarter to erase the deficit.

Zero flow to this game

It all started in the first half in what was a borderline unwatchable game at times. The Hawks spoke about the Wizards being physical after game one and that they’d have to match their physicality but it was the refs that took notice. The officials took all of the flow out of the game as 29 fouls were committed in the first half (16 by Washington, 13 by Atlanta). The Wizards wanted to get out in transition but were unable to due to all of the quick whistles.

The teams combined for 55 fouls tonight.

Wizards vs. Nuggets final score: Washington sweeps back-to-back with 123-113 win in Denver

All five Wizards starters scored in double figures led by John Wall with 26 and Bradley Beal with 23 as the Wizards beat a short-handed Nuggets squad, 123-113 on Wednesday night. Otto Porter was able to knock off the rust, scoring 22 points and Marcin Gortat returned to his old ways, notching a double-double with 11 points and 15 rebounds to help the Wizards improve to 2-0 on their road trip.

The Wizards sure didn’t look like a team on the second half of a back-to-back from the start of this one. Washington started the game 6-10 from the field as Wall and Beal combined for 18 points in the first period. Wall got out in transition and had many opportunities in the first quarter thanks to long rebounds off Denver’s missed threes. Wall scored layups on back-to-back fast break possessions including this one as he put just the right English on the ball to finish with the foul.

Wall finished the quarter with 10 points and four assists as the Wizards led, 35-28 after one.

There was a lot to like from Washington in the second quarter, particularly from the recently, very effective bench. The reserves came in and combined for 18 points in the first half behind eight points from Bojan Bogdanovic and four assists from Brandon Jennings. The reserves did their job in maintaining the lead for when the starters checked back in.

When Wall and Beal were re-inserted, the Wizards kicked it up a gear. Washington went on a 12-2 run sparked by two three-pointers from Bradley Beal and some short shots in the lane from Gortat as the Wizards were able to go into halftime up 67-50.

The Wizards were coasting and it looked like Washington would cruise as they led by 24 at one point in the third quarter. But Denver had other plans. The Nuggets shot a red-hot 78 percent in the third quarter as they trimmed the Washington lead in half entering the fourth quarter.

Once again, the Wizards were able to stretch the lead out to 14 but the pesky Nuggets wouldn’t go away. Things got more complicated after Markieff Morris was ejected for a Flagrant 2 foul on Mason Plumlee. The teams traded baskets for most of the fourth quarter and the Nuggets were able to cut the lead to single digits with just under a minute to play. But on the next possession with the shot clock winding down, Gortat found Bogdanovic who swung it around the horn for a wide open Porter who’d knock down the dagger three to put the game out of reach.

Gortat breaks out of his slump

After struggling over the past couple of games, Gortat turned his best performance since the All-Star break. Gortat got back to his double-double ways with 11 points and 15 rebounds and nearly accomplished that feat by halftime (eight points, 11 rebounds).

It looked like the game plan was to feed Gortat early and often on the block to try and get the big man going as the Nuggets were short-handed in the frontcourt with Nikola Jokic missing this one. Gortat also chipped in with three offensive rebounds that resulted in second chance points for the Wizards.

Otto Porter re-emerges

Like Gortat, Porter has also been struggling a bit since the All-Star break. Porter was able to break out of his funk with 22 points on 10-15 shooting to go along with four steals. Porter hasn’t been taking threes at a rate we saw prior to the All-Star break but tonight, did most of his damage around the rim. Otto had two key buckets late in the game, a long two and a three-pointer with the shot clock winding down as Denver was making a last effort run.

Jennings has his best game as a Wizard

After his early exit from last night’s game, a well rested Jennings turned in his best performance as a Wizard with four points, six assists, and two steals in just over 17 minutes of play. Like Wall, Jennings was looking to get out in transition to set his teammates up. Jennings’ highlight of the night was capped off when he went behind the back to Mahinmi for an easy finish at the rim.

Wall, Wizards pull away from Pacers win, 112-107.

Three Wizards players log double-doubles led by John Wall and Markieff Morris with 26 points a piece as the Wizards pull away from the Pacers and win 112-107. Marcin Gortat added 14 points and 16 rebounds while Beal scored 20 as the Wizards knock down an eastern conference foe hunting them down in the standings.

It looked like Otto Porter was going to be in for a big game. Porter scored eight points in the first period and knocked down his first three-pointer of the night. Unfortunately for Porter, he was shutout the rest of the game. For the first time in a long time, Scott Brooks went with all five reserves on the floor to end the first quarter. The Wizards led 33-27 after one.

The Wizards were a cold 2-7 from the floor to begin the second quarter. The starters came back in and countered with an 8-0 run with all points coming courtesy of Morris. The Pacers lead was stretched to as much as nine but the Wizards came back and tied the game at 59 at halftime.

The teams traded buckets for most of the third quarter. Once again, Brooks reinserted all five reserves to end the quarter and they were able to regain the lead as they capitalized on swift cuts and were able to get easy buckets.

The Pacers wouldn’t go away. Tough shots from Paul George down the stretch kept Indiana within striking distance. With under a minute remaining, Wall looped around the court and found Morris for a wide-open three as the Wizards would take a 108-102 lead and never look back.

Wizards win 112-107.

Frontcourt comes up big

Markieff Morris and Marcin Gortat both notched double-doubles and combined for 40 points and 26 rebounds (10 OREB). Morris scored a season-high 26 points on 11-18 shooting while knocking down three three-pointers. Gortat came up big with eight offensive rebounds often resulting in second chance points. Gortat’s biggest offensive rebound of the game came with 40 seconds remaining as Beal missed both free-throws but Gortat was there to knock it out and give Washington an extra possession.

Brooks plays all five reserves at once

Scott Brooks has been shuffling lineups for almost the entire season and continued to do so tonight. Before, Brooks always kept a starter on the floor. Tonight, he went with all five reserves for five-minute stretches at two points in the game. The bench relinquished the lead in the first half but built out the lead in the second half. Clearly, Brooks seems to have more and more confidence in his bench as of late. That, or he’s trying to keep the starters’ minutes down as much as possible.

Wizards get back to business

After a heartbreaker against the Cavs and an uninspiring win against the Nets, the Wizards looked like themselves tonight. John Wall was doing John Wall things while Beal was knocking down three-pointers as he usually does. Nice all around win against a team a few games behind them in the standings.

Wizards win their 16th straight at Verizon Center behind 33 from Wall.

John Wall leads the way with 33 points (14 in the fourth quarter) as the Wizards hold off a feisty Lakers team for their 16th straight victory at Verizon Center, 116-108. Markieff Morris (12 points, 11 rebounds) and Marcin Gortat (21 points, 14 rebounds) each had double-doubles while Bradley Beal added 23 points, shooting 5-9 from three-point range.

Bradley Beal came out scorching the nets tonight as he connected on his first five three-pointers, three of which coming in the first quarter. The Wizards made it a point to get Gortat going early which paid dividends as the big man turned in a monster performance. The Wizards shot 41 percent from the field but Los Angeles was letting it fly from three (5-12) as the game was close, 31-29 after one quarter.

The bench was productive when they came in led by Jason Smith who had another putback dunk off a miss

The third quarter was a different story. The Wizards got off to a slow start this time knocking down four of their first 12 field goals from the field. D’Angello Russell caught fire knocking down a couple of three-pointers and all of a sudden, the Wizards 19-point lead was cut to julst 11. Fortunately for the Wizards, Gortat scored 13 of his 21 points in the third period to maintain a 90-79 lead.

A three-point field goal from Jordan Clarkson and three free-throws from Lou Williams had the Lakers faithful at Verizon Center erupting as the baby Lakers cut the Wizard lead down to six, early in the fourth quarter. The Lakers used a 9-0 run to tie the game at 91 as the Wizards’ 19-point lead was erased.

John Wall flipped the switch scoring eight straight points for the Wizards as they’d regain the lead 99-93. Wall would hit two key fourth quarter jumpers as he scored 14 points in the period and the Wizards outlast the Lakers, 116-108.

Marcin Gortat stays rock solid

Probably the most overlooked player during this hot stretch for the Wizards is Marcin Gortat. Gortat has 28 double-doubles on the season, just one short of Wall’s 29. Gortat had one of his more explosive games of the season with 21 points and 14 rebounds. He took control in the third quarter with 13 points during a time when the Wizards struggled to score the ball. Gortat was extremely efficient knocking down 10 of his 13 field goal attempts (77 percent) and knocked down his only free-throw attempt tonight as well.

Wizards limit turnovers

Turnovers have been a major issue for Washington but not tonight. The Wizards committed just 12 turnovers resulting in just six points for the Lakers. In the past, the team has committed some errant passes often leading to easy baskets on the other end for the opposition. Luckily for the Wizards, the Lakers are one of the worst defensive teams in the league so no only did they not force Washington into pressure situations, they were unable to capitalize as well.

John Wall comes up big in the fourth quarter

As mentioned, Wall scored 14 of his 33 points tonight coming in the final frame. Wall hit two three-pointers to get things started only to knock in some key clutch jumpers from his favorite spot on the court, the elbow, down the stretch. Things were tense at Verizon Center after a 19-point lead evaporated but John Wall scored eight straight points for the Wizards to regain the lead.

Everyone loves talking about Wall’s jumper, and tonight he proved that he can knock it down with confidence when the game is on the line.

Washington rolls past Atlanta in a dominating 112-86 win.

Washington turns in a dominant performance from start to finish as they blowout the Hawks, 112-86 on Friday night. All five Wizards starters scored at least 15 points led by Otto Porter with 21 as he went 5-7 from three-point range. The win pulls the Wizards within a half a game of the four seed.

A main reason for the Wizards turnaround is because they’ve been able to get out of the gate fast. That was on display tonight as the Wizards took an 8-1 lead early forcing Atlanta to call two early timeouts. The Wizards knocked down their first four three-pointers en route to a 37-25 lead after one quarter.

The bench came in and grew that lead in the second quarter. Some nice hustle plays from Kelly Oubre Jr. and Jason Smith resulted in easy buckets on the other end for Washington. Washington shot 53 percent from the field and four of the five starters scored in double figures as the Wizards led, 67-45 at halftime.

The Wizards won the first five minutes of the second half and stretched the lead to 30, 91-61 at one point. The starters sat for the entire fourth quarter as the Wizards roll to an 112-86 win.

Wizards crash the glass

Washington crushed Atlanta on the glass tonight outrebounding them 52-41. The trio of Gortat, Morris, and Porter combined for 32 rebounds led by Gortat with 12. Gortat won the battle against Dwight Howard and kept many possessions alive with his patented slap back. Markieff Morris wasn’t far behind as he snatched five offensive rebounds. The team combined for 13 offensive rebounds resulting in 12 second chance points.

Otto Porter stays hot from three

Otto Porter, the best three-point shooter in the NBA, did nothing to hurt his stats tonight as he was 5-7 from three-point range. Porter connected on three of his first four and early on to build up the Wizards’ lead. Otto stayed hot to start the second half as Wall zipped a pass to him only to knock down a wide-open three in the corner.

Too many turnovers

It didn’t burn the Wizards tonight but their turnover issue still remains a head scratcher. Washington coughed the ball up 20 times with many coming on lackadaisical passes or passes that just weren’t there. The game was out of hand early so it didn’t come back to haunt them. However, 20 turnovers in a game isn’t going to cut it on most nights.

Wizards vs. Grizzlies final score: Gasol, Grizzles hit key threes to beat Wizards 112-103 in overtime

Marc Gasol hit a three-pointer with 12 seconds remaining in regulation to force overtime and hit two more in overtime as the Grizzles knocked off the Wizards 112-103. The Wizards are now 0-2 on the season, even though all five Wizards starters scored in double figures in the loss, led by John Wall with 22 points and 13 assists.

The Wizards, coming off two days of rest, started this game like the team on the second half of a back-to-back. The Wiz started the game 2-13 from the field and only scored seven points through the first six minutes of the game. Timely field goals from Otto Porter midway through the first quarter helped them settle in as the Wizards trailed by five, 27-22 after the first quarter.

The reserves did the starters no favors as the Grizzles started the second quarter on a 9-1 run behind 3 threes from Vince Carter. The Grizzles would stay hot from three-point range stretching the lead to 15 before Scott Brooks was forced to burn another timeout to settle things down. John Wall checked in three minutes into the second quarter and it changed the course of the half. Wall attacked the hole on consecutive possessions; getting bumped on both shot attempts but without a foul called. Wall would get a technical foul after barking at the referee for not getting a foul call.

The technical foul lit a fire under Wall, leading him to attack the hole more rather than settle for jumpers. At one point, he earned back-to-back and-one opportunities to help get the Wizards back into the game. The WallStar notched a double-double (13 points, 10 assists) by halftime as the Wizards were able to cut the deficit to four, 58-54.

The lead would seesaw back and forth in the third quarter, thanks in part to a hot start from Markieff Morris, who scored the first two buckets of the quarter. The Wizards took the lead for a short time during the frame, but the Grizzles would hold on to a one-point lead, 78-77, entering the fourth quarter.

The Wizards used a combination of easy buckets and free throws on a 9-0 run to pull out to a 96-88 with less than four minutes left, but it didn’t hold up. Mike Conley scored seven straight points to help the Grizzlies get back into the game, and then with time winding down in regulation, Marc Gasol knocked down a three-pointer (his second of the game at that point) to tie the game and force overtime.

The overtime was one to forget. Gasol hit two more three-pointers as the Grizzles opened up a ten-point, 110-100 lead. Washington didn’t score until the final 30 seconds of overtime, after both teams had emptied their benches.

The Wizards lost a winnable game 112-103 and fall to 0-2 for the season. Here’s what we noticed in the loss:

The bench has issues:

The Wizards were down by four points late in the first quarter, 24-20, when Scott Brooks started subbing in the reserves. The Grizzlies pounced on them, mainly from three-point range as the Grizzles stretched the lead to 15 just minutes into the second quarter. Once again, the second unit struggled to score and was never able to get into much of a rhythm.

Brooks switched things up in the second half staggering starters with reserves and the results were much better. The Wizards stayed competitive and were able to regain the lead several times as the lead seesawed back and forth. Even through two games, it’s pretty clear that Brooks must stagger the reserves with the starters rather than playing all five backups at once.

Three-point shooting is a problem:

The Wizards shot a horrific 5-25 (25 percent) from three-point range and one of those three-pointers came after the game got out of hand in overtime. Porter, Nicholson, and Oubre missed all 10 of their collective attempts tonight while Beal and Wall combined to go 3-11 from deep.

It’s clear that three-point shooting might be a problem for this team going forward. If several players don’t step up, it could cost the Wizards several games down the road.

The free-throw shooting is better:

The Wizards lost numerous games last season due to poor free-throw shooting. You can’t chalk up tonight’s loss to free-throws. In a game where the Wizards struggled from three-point range (5-25), the team made up for it by shooting 22-25 from the charity stripe. Marcin Gortat was a perfect 10-10 from the line. Wall and Beal hit all of their free throw attempts as well.

If the Wizards continue to struggle from three-point range, they’ll need to continue to shoot well and often at the free throw line to compensate.