Now that Marcin Gortat can run more pick-and-rolls with Nene out of the lineup, the 6-11 center is in his comfort zone. Defenses have a difficult decision of leaving him for John Wall when attacking the paint which then opens the paint for Gortat on the catch, giving Gortat clean looks from mid-range, and if they defend this action well that means shooters such as Trevor Ariza, who is shooting 65% from three-point range in his last six games, can spot up around the arc mostly uncontested.
Having to make a choice gave the Utah Jazz fits on Wednesday night, and the success as of late -- Washington is 4-1 since Nene went down with a left knee ligament strain -- has to make coach Randy Wittman think about how he uses him in the future. Gortat flourishes in the pick-and-roll, evidenced by his play with the Phoenix Suns who traded him here before the season. If the Wizards make the playoffs, to be successful adjustments have to be made game to game as opponents take things away. Running more offense through Gortat can't hurt.
"They are good at what they do. Gortat is a big guy and sets pretty solid screens and obviously Wall is good at getting into the paint so you have to suck in and help on the roll," said Jazz guard Gordon Hayward after the 104-91 loss. "When you do that they get kick-out threes. They have some pretty good knock-down shooters. It's a tough play to guard."
Of course, Utah isn't to be confused with a defensive force. Gortat made 7 of 11 shots for 16 points and had nine rebounds against them, but since Nene's injury Gortat is shooting 41 of 68, or 60.2%. That's six points better than his season average. He's averaging 19.4 points, seven above his average. He's grabbing 10.6 rebounds, almost two more than his season average. Something is working so well here that it's too good to just throw away when Nene returns in the final week of the regular season.
[RELATED: Instant analysis: Wizards 104, Jazz 91]
"John Wall is a load and they were adjusting to the pick-and-rolls," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. "We didn't do a good job of keeping him one way once the screen came up. When the screen came up, the bigs were on one side. He's a good player and Gortat does a good job for him. He's able to get down the lane too much because we let him adjust."