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Marcin Gortat's rebirth huge for Wizards vs. Hawks in playoffs: 'It's about time to wake up'

Marcin Gortat's rebirth huge for Wizards vs. Hawks in playoffs: 'It's about time to wake up'

What Marcin Gortat has done in the first two games of the Wizards' first-round series vs. the Atlanta Hawks might be his two best performances all season. It's an about-face from where he was three weeks ago.

Why the change?

"The part where you suck. It just tells you that it's about time to wake up and start doing your job. The fact that I got to accept what's going on," said Gortat to CSNmidatlantic.com before the regular season ended. "The fact that this is how it's going to be and I got to perform now and then just keep fighting for my opportunities, minutes, touches, whatever it is. At the end of the day I think that that's what happened. The Utah game is where I started playing better. Maybe numbers don't show but I think it was the turning point."

Gortat, who had begun to lose playing time to Ian Mahinmi after the backup returned from knee procedures, had just four points and 11 rebounds in tha regular-season loss March 31 in Salt Lake City.

[RELATED: Wizards must fix Brandon Jennings' defense ASAP]

Against Atlanta in the playoffs, he has had 14 points and 10 rebounds in both games, each victories, including five blocks in Game 2. And combined he has shot 14-for-21, or 67%, from the field.

Gortat has had far better games than even those statistically speaking, namely 21 points and 18 rebounds in a two-point loss to the San Antonio Spurs. But none of it shows his defensive effort against Dwight Howard, what he does pre-catch to deny him post position, switching out on guards such as Tim Hardaway in space and defending All-Star Paul Millsap when the Hawks go to small-ball at the five.

Mahinmi is out at least the first three games with Atlanta because of a left calf strain. There is no other true center on the roster and Gortat is it. Whatever the Wizards have needed from him, he's given it to them going into Saturday's Game 3 at Phillips Arena.

“I thought he has been great both games. He has an athletic big that can have monster games in Dwight Howard," coach Scott Brooks said. "He’s done a great job of just staying around the basket, staying in front of them. He’s done a good job. That’s what he’s done. He’s a big part of our team, and when he defends he helps us. He’s not known as a defender because he does so many good things offensively, but he knows how to play. He had some tough assignments. Millsap is not an easy guard for anybody to play, and he did a good job of guarding him, also.”

[RELATED: Wizards escape after Beal comes alive in Game 2]

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Does Chris Paul's trade to Rockets set the price for Pacers and Paul George?

Does Chris Paul's trade to Rockets set the price for Pacers and Paul George?

An NBA superstar named Paul was traded on Wednesday, but not the one who has been linked over and over in the last few weeks to the Wizards. No, it was Chris Paul who got dealt from the Clippers to the Rockets in a deal reported by Yahoo! Sports and not Paul George of the Pacers.

Paul's trade, however, could apply to George and by relation to the Wizards. That's because Paul is also a superstar and also has just one year left on his contract now that he agreed to opt in and head to Houston. George can opt out of his contract following the 2017-18 season and has made his intentions clear to the Pacers that he plans to leave.

Now, George has an extra wrinkle involved that Paul did not. He has indicated he not only wants to leave the Pacers next summer but specifically to join his hometown L.A. Lakers. Though Paul could leave the Rockets after one year, George seems almost certain to leave whichever city he plays in next year.

[RELATED: Wall is lobbying George to come to Wizards]

Still, set that aside and there may be something to learn from what the Rockets gave up for Paul if you are a team trying to land George from Indiana. First, let's look at what Houston gave up:

Rockets receive: PG Chris Paul

Clippers receive: PG Patrick Beverley, SG Lou Williams, SF Sam Dekker, 2018 first round pick

The Wizards already have a point guard, so they weren't interested in Paul. But could they offer something comparable for George? The Rockets' first round pick is likely to be in the late 20s, so that is doable. But in Beverley, Williams and Dekker the Clippers get two proven players who can help them win now and a high-ceiling former first round pick.

Whether the Pacers would accept NBA players like that, or if they seek more picks for the future, is unclear. The Wizards could not compete with teams like the Celtics and Lakers when it comes to picks, given the ones they hold will likely land in the lottery.

If the Wizards offer something similar to what the Rockets gave up, that hypothetical would likely include some combination of Otto Porter, who would have to do a sign-and-trade, Kelly Oubre, Jr., Marcin Gortat or Ian Mahinmi. Markieff Morris has such a team-friendly contract and gets along so well with John Wall and Bradley Beal that it's tough to see them give him up.

The Wizards may still not have the pieces to outbid others for George, but the Paul deal certainly appears to be a good starting point.

[RELATED: Sources: Wizards still in pursuit of trade for Paul George]

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Clippers trade Chris Paul to Rockets where he will team with James Harden, report says

Clippers trade Chris Paul to Rockets where he will team with James Harden, report says

There may be another super team forming in Houston, as on Wednesday the Rockets pulled off a deal to acquire superstar point guard Chris Paul and pair him with James Harden, a two-time runner-up for MVP.

That's according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, who tweeted this on Wednesday morning and in doing so set Twitter on fire:

Paul and Harden in the same backcourt will form one of the most talented duos in basketball, but how they will work together is not clear yet. Paul is a point guard and Harden has found his success in recent years at the same position. Harden's background is as a shooting guard, but he thrives with the ball in his hands and running Mike D'Antoni's offense.

The Clippers will receive guards Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, Sam Dekker and a 2018 first round pick, according to multiple reports. That's all for Paul, who has one year left on his contract now that he has agreed to opt in. That brings up the question of whether Paul will sign a long-term deal. It would be understandable if he wants to see how the first year goes first.

Either way, this is a major, major blockbuster deal and NBA free agency hasn't even started yet.

[RELATED: Sources: Wizards still in pursuit of trade for Paul George]