TORONTO – At no point did Scott Brooks ever go to Jason Smith to tell him that his playing time would be cut. It was an assumption, however, that the Wizards’ most consistent bench player this season could make on his own.
“We’re trying to get our rotations down for later in the season. What better time to do it now rather than then,” said Smith.
That was before he played Wednesday vs. the Toronto Raptors. Smith, who had logged just four minutes in the previous three games, erupted. In 10 minutes, he made all four of his shots for eight points and five rebounds and along with Bojan Bogdanovic, Kelly Oubre, Tomas Satoransky and Ian Mahinmi inspired a 26-3 second-quarter spurt to blow the game open.
The Wizards (36-23) won 105-96, the second game of a back-to-back in which they edged the Golden State Warriors 112-108.
Smith’s mid-range shooting can spread the floor for a second unit that has been scarce with points this season. Bogdanovic’s season-high 27 points will make him the sixth man in the rotation – a bench player who is capable of starting – and Brooks will have options.
Some nights he’ll want to go with a true big like Mahinmi in the middle, a rim protector who defends well on the pick-and-roll. Other nights Brooks might need a face-up big like Smith to open the floor because offense is the greater need.
“We had a great rotation against the Warriors,” Smith said. “That’s the way the game is evolving with small lineups. Small one through four and maybe one big guy out there. I just got to remain ready. Got to be prepared to go in at any time. It’s how the season has progressed. We knew that when we got Ian back. You’ve got to be prepared for anything. “
It’s an unusual position for Smith to lose playing time when he had been playing so well. The last time he was on a playoff team was 2011 with the then-New Orleans Hornets with Chris Paul and Trevor Ariza.
“I haven’t really had to deal with it like this playing throughout the year. But I haven’t been on winning teams like this either.
Smith won’t go to Brooks and ask for more time.
"For him to stay ready and come in and impact the game in his nine or 10 minutes," Brooks said, "was huge."