Marcin Gortat might be a prophet with his predictions, except maybe the one about the Wizards winning 50 games. Just when it seems like the Wizards have figured it out and they beat a quality team such as the Miami Heat, they disappoint against the not-so-good ones. Gortat will be returning to play the team that traded him before the season, the Phoenix Suns, on Friday (CSN+, 9 p.m. ET). They're one of the good ones.
"It's not a big deal playing against your ex-team," said Gortat, who played for almost three years there after he spent the first three-plus years of his career with the Orlando Magic. "You just want to win the game. Basically, that's it."
The Suns (24-17) are a surprise. The transition to Washington, where Gortat was traded just a few days before the 2013-14 season started, has been up and down much like the Wizards (20-21). Wednesday's loss in overtime to the Boston Celtics was yet another example of playing down to the opposition.
"Things changed when I made it here to Washington. We have a lot of older guys, veterans in front of me, so I'm actually kind of shut down from the leader standpoint," Gortat said before Wednesday's game. "I'm just trying to be there and show as an example how the veterans should behave."
Fitting in hasn't always been easy with point guard John Wall, who took 29 shots vs. Boston. Gortat had only eight.
"It's clear that I'm not the first or second option on this team. Pretty much I'm the fourth or fifth option sometimes. You got names like Nene or Bradley (Beal) or John that touch the ball a lot. I'm here to just make sure the team's going to win. Take care of the dirty stuff, rebounds, blocks, play some good defense. Try to bring some pick-and-roll presence," Gortat said. "Back in Phoenix I was one of the options where I could go and score. We played a lot of pick-and-rolls with the (power forward) who could stretch all the way to the three-point line. Here it's a different story. Nene or Book (Trevor Booker), they don't stretch all the way to the three-point line so we got to find space for both of us.
"I'm still in the process of figuring out what's going on. There's only one guy that really clicked between me and him from the get-to and it was Steve Nash," Gortat said of his former Suns teammate. "You just got to roll hard and the guy was going to always find you. We played from game one like we'd played for 10 years together. But with any other player in this league, you got to spend with him at least 50, 60, 70 games, or even a few years to build a good chemistry. ... (We have) a game or two where we rolling together, we have fun, then we hit the wall. We have two or three games where we look pretty much (like) play with each other for the first time."