One of the things that Wizards coach Randy Wittman has stressed all season is being ready when your number is called. For Garrett Temple his playing time has been erratic at best since being called up from the D-League. But with the Wizards down to just two healthy guards against Milwaukee, Temple knew his team would be counting on him.
“We had some guys banged up,” said Temple after logging 41 minutes in the Wizards 106-93 win. “A.J. [Price] couldn’t go because of his groin. Brad[Beal] wasn’t able to go because of his ankle. I knew I was going to have to play a pretty good amount of minutes tonight. “
Prior to Beal’s ankle injury Temple had played a total of 23 minutes in the Wizards’ last eight games. After being thrust back into a prominent role he struggled shooting 3-of-12 from the field in his last three contests. But against the Bucks he responded with his best performance as a Wizard. Temple scored 13 points on 6-of-7 shooting and dished out four assists all while being responsible for keeping Milwaukee’s Monta Ellis in check defensively.
“When you get more time you contribute a little better,” said Martell Webster who has encouraged Temple to be aggressive despite his shooting struggles. “He got a lot of time tonight so he was able to find his niche within the offense.”
With Price out of the lineup Temple and John Wall were the primary ball handlers against Milwaukee. Wittman has been preaching playing with pace. He wants his guards to push the ball up the floor and make opposing teams adjust to them. But he doesn’t want them to play out of control. Young guards have a tendency to turn the ball over when they get tired. But Temple and Wall kept their composure and turned the ball over a combined four times despite both playing over 40 minutes.
“It felt good to help the team out,” said Temple. “When we play with pace I’m a pretty good player in transition. I like to get steals, get some layups and knock down some open jumpers.”
The Wizards led by as many as 20 before being outscored 34-15 in the third quarter. Milwaukee eventually gained a three-point advantage but the Wizards forced them into missing 11 of 17 shots in the fourth quarter. In times past Washington would’ve panicked after giving up such a big lead, but thanks to a total team effort they were able to pull out a win despite being undermanned.
“I’m proud of the guys,” said Wittman. “The effort that they gave tonight for 48 minutes was astounding, considering the tough situation we went through last night. We’ve got some guys beat up, we’ve got some guys playing through some things. That was a really guy performance. “