Wizards ride strong starts to 3 wins in 4 games
The Wizards weren't going to wait for Carmelo Anthony to have an explosion before making an adjustment defensively.
They launched a pre-emptive strike.
Nene and Marcin Gortat often helped trap him immediately when he caught the ball, forcing Anthony to give it up and more often than not he didn't get it back.
Anthony had 13 of his team-high 23 points in the first half of Saturday's 98-89 loss to the Wizards, but only five came in the fourth quarter when the Knicks tried to mount a comeback.
"That's obvious," Gortat said. "We made it clear that we're going to make sure he's not going to be the guy that beat us. It's going to be somebody else."
On the offensive end, Gortat finally woke up. He'd been uneasy for at least a week over his inability to finish plays in the pick-and-roll with John Wall. He did that and then some Saturday.
Just 17 seconds into the third quarter, Wall fed Gortat going to the rim for a dunk. A couple of minutes later it was a layup. Then came the 16-foot jump shot. Gortat, who was just 3 of 10 in a loss the previous night in Toronto, had has stroke back.
"There's a few things that got me going. Offensive rebounds, the dunk, good defensive possessions," he said. "John helped me, too. Getting me open looks in the pick-and-roll. I'm grateful I'm playing with him."
Gortat missed his first three shots to start the game but finished by making seven of his next eight. He ended with 16 points and 17 rebounds, seven offensive.
"I lost my rhythm," Gortat said. "I'm trying to put myself in better position to score, just be closer to the basket, closer to the rim where I can work my game and get something going."