Porter still not ready for extended minutes

Porter still not ready for extended minutes
December 7, 2013, 12:00 pm
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Wizards too care-free in OT loss

For a change, Otto Porter's health has taken a back seat to turmoil that could be surrounding the Wizards. Friday's surprising loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, injuries to Martell Webster and Nene and critical comments from coach Randy Wittman that clearly were in reference to John Wall took precedent.

But after practice Saturday, the Wizards (9-10) acknowledged they've got to bring him along slowly and figure out if Porter, who played 14 minutes in his first game as a pro, is able to handle more and actually contribute.

"We can't get the cart ahead of the horse here. I've got to make sure he's comfortable, conditioning, legs and everything," coach Randy Wittman said. "He said (his legs) felt like Jell-o out there a little bit. We've got to keep monitoring that."

Indeed, Porter was a fish out of water in his debut, which came at the start of the second quarter. Porter's first possession was a turnover when he traveled. His first shot attempt was a mid-range airball. 

"I’m still emotional. This was my first game playing in the NBA. This is what I have been working my whole life for. It was pretty cool and I was excited," said Porter, the No. 3 overall pick who was injured Sept. 13 and didn't start practicing again until a week ago. "I got a couple minutes in, and got my feet wet a little bit. I was happy to be out there.

"I came back and gathered myself. I realized, it’s finally done.”

[RELATED: Wittman questions leadership after OT loss]

Porter may have to do more. Webster (left ankle sprain) might not play Monday vs. the Denver Nuggets (CSN, 7 p.m. ET). Bradley Beal (right fibula) still has to be cleared regarding his stress reaction. Al Harrington (sore right knee) hasn't played or practiced since Nov. 12 and is going to see the doctor this week after irritation returned. Chris Singleton logged 33 minutes and made his first shot but then missed his next nine and that included one at the buzzer that could've won the game for the Wizards in regulation.

All of that adds up to Porter, if his right hip flexor can handle the load, getting more minutes if for no reason other than roster attrition at some point. At least he got the initial shock out of the way and can catch up to game speed, but the Wizards must be smart here. Possibly falling to 9-11 in the East is a small price to pay for limiting Porter's minutes to prevent re-injury.

“When you first play, the guys are flying by you and you’re like, 'Woah,'" Porter said. "But once you’re out there more and more, it slows down a lot.”

There are much more experienced players on the roster who are getting paid well and not performing. That responsibility is on them. Not a rookie who is playing catch-up.