Wake-up call: Gortat demands Wall give him the ball

Wake-up call: Gortat demands Wall give him the ball
February 28, 2014, 6:00 am
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Highlights: Wizards 134, Raptors 129 (3 OT)

Marcin Gortat, in his first season with the Wizards, and John Wall have had their issues. Wall has ruffled his feathers by being too abrasive in how he has talked to the 6-11 center. With Nene out, they've really got to be on the same page and that was on display in the crucial moments of Thursday's 134-129 triple-overtime win at the Toronto Raptors. 

Gortat missed five of his first six shots, but he finished with a career-high 31 points, had the tying basket to force the first overtime, a key block in the second extra period, and a series of three-point play conversions after initially struggling at the three-point line.

"I automatically try to put myself in a situation to score," Gortat said amidst the Wizards' season-long five-game winning streak. "I yell to John. Sometimes he's going to yell back at me. I say, 'Listen, Nene is not here. This is what we've got to do. I got to lead this team, help this team inside.' I'm going to run to the block and demand the ball. I believe I'm capable of doing it. I feel confident. If I'm scoring I'll demand the ball even more."

  • Gortat scored the last six points of regulation in Toronto, including a putback of a missed shot from Bradley Beal with five seconds left to force the first overtime.
  • In the second OT, Gortat blocked a shot by Jonas Valanciunas at the rim to prevent a two-possession game and dunked it on the other end to tie the score at 116.
  • Gortat made the Wizards' first field goal to begin the third OT, and when they trailed 127-124 he sliced to the rim on the pick-and-roll and Wall found him for the layup. Gortat was fouled, too, and made the free throw after being just 4-for-8 from the line in regulation. 

The role is a welcomed changed for Gortat, who lamented earlier in the season he wasn't used to being the fourth or fifth option. When he was with the Phoenix Suns, he was the primary option running a lot of pick-and-rolls. The adjustment hasn't been easy.

Credit to coach Randy Wittman, who has made a concerted effort to keep Gortat engaged by getting him early touches.