With Bradley Beal sidelined, Garrett Temple continues making the most of his starting opportunity. With minutes available, Jordan Crawford continues renting space in Randy Wittman's doghouse.
Both guards fall under the same positional heading, but offer wildly different styles and mental approaches. Right now Wittman clearly prefers Temple's, which starts on the defensive end and emphasizes steady over showy.
Early against the Clippers, it also included a scoring component as Temple made his first four shots and score 10 points in the first quarter. The 6-foot-6 wing finished with a season-high 15 points on 7 of 12 shooting, and finished with three steals and three blocks while playing a team-high 37 minutes.
“Tonight I was fortunate enough to get a couple of them to fall early and help my team by any means necessary," Temple said. "When my shots aren’t falling I have to pick it up defensively. I feel whichever way I can help my team and help myself stay on the floor I will do.”
Even in a contested game that did not clearly turn Washington's way until the final minutes, Wittman trusted Temple to play the entire fourth quarter. During the decisive 11-2 run, the former LSU product drained a step back jumper and his steal led directly to a John Wall dunk.
“Garrett stepped in tonight and played with confidence," Wittman said. "Took the shots that were presented to him, shot them with confidence. I thought he was all over the place defensively, guarded a lot of different people, he was big for us."
After playing heavy minutes just seconds after signing with Washington out of the D-League on Christmas Day, Temple's length and point guard earned him a season-long contract. His playing time diminished once John Wall and A.J, Price returned from injury, but Wittman put his "wildcard" guard into the starting lineup when Beal's sprained right wrist required rest.
"Garrett was great," Nene said following the Wizards' sixth home win in seven games. "He's taking opportunity."
Not a strong perimeter threat, but Temple's complimentary game has blended in with Wittman's ball-movement designs. Crawford ball-dominant ways do not, not right now and not with more scoring options available than earlier in the season when Wittman gave the volume shooter free reign.
For the second straight game, Crawford did not play in the second half and finished with three points in five minutes despite being the only true shooting guard on the roster with Beal out.
It's not often the singular moment of a benching is clear - Chris Singleton rode the bench game after game without obvious rationale. For Crawford against the Clippers, no explanation was required.
Washington's offense clicked early, shooting 55 percent from the floor with seven assists on 11 made baskets in the first quarter. Crawford's run in earnest began in the second and midway through the quarter he received a pass on the right wing. Rather than quickly feed a teammate or even consider taking an immediate shot, Crawford turned to the dribble...and the dribble...and another dribble, backing up outside the 3-point arc while searching for an impact opportunity. Within a nanosecond of the ball leaving the third-year guard's hands and heading toward the basket, Wittman summoned Temple to the scorer's table.
The shot missed and at the next stoppage, Crawford was out, Temple was in.
Asked about sitting Crawford for a second straight second half, Wittman said, "He's in a funk or whatever; he's got to stay with it. He's got to continue to work hard. He's got to play hard. That's it."