Highlights: Wizards no match for Pacers
Marcin Gortat started his NBA career backing up Dwight Howard for over three seasons with the Orlando Magic including one that ended in the NBA Finals. The two centers reunite Saturday night at the Verizon Center as the Wizards host Howard's Houston Rockets.
Gortat, who has played solid to spectacular defense in recent games, left Orlando via a trade to Phoenix during the 2010-11 season. Since then the former teammates have met five times. Before then, Gortat had the challenge of banging with the All-Star big man in daily practices.
“Every day was a hit. Every day was a fight. Every day I’d bleed, most of the time,” Gortat told ProBasketballTalk in March of 2011 before their first matchup as opponents.
Since then both Howard and Gortat have multiple stops. In his first season with the Rockets (23-14), Howard ranks third in the NBA with 12.9 rebounds while averaging 17.8 points and 1.8 blocks.
Gortat has helped stabilize Washington's interior with 12.3 points, 8.7 rebounds and 1.5 blocks. However, neither he nor any of the other Wizards (16-18) could keep Indiana off the boards in Friday's blow out loss. The Pacers outrebounded Washington 61-41.
Even with Gortat's insider knowledge, Howard averaged 20 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks in their previous five head-to-head meetings. Gortat checks in at 8-8-1.2 while shooting 42 percent from the field.
Washington's starter doesn't pretend only insight is required against one of the NBA's top interior presences.
“But still, (at the) end of the day, it’s still about having big balls and holding your ground when the guy’s trying to kick your ass," Gortat told PBT. "Seriously, man. It’s not easy when you have a 280-pound guy with a smile on his face trying to crush your face. You’ve got to be tough, I’m telling you right now. His elbows are hard (as) rocks.”