Wizards' lineup switch pays dividends

Wizards' lineup switch pays dividends
March 9, 2013, 11:45 pm
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On paper, moving Trevor Ariza to the bench in favor of Garrett Temple doesn't make a lot of sense.

Ariza is a better scorer for the Wizards, especially with Bradley Beal missing his third consecutive game with a sprained left ankle.

Temple scored just two points in Saturday’s 104-87 win vs. the Charlotte Bobcats in 23 minutes of action. Ariza came off the bench to score a game-high 26 points, making 7 of 11 shots, including 5 of 8 three-pointers, and 10 rebounds in 35 minutes.

Ariza had been inserted into the starting lineup the previous two games because of Beal's injury, but the Wizards lacked scoring off the bench and Ariza wasn't as effective. They lost both.

Making the switch, however, was about more than statistics.  Point guard John Wall needed help in the backcourt.

“It gives us a little bit more early ball-handling with Brad out. We miss Brad’s ability to put the ball on the floor,” Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. “Garrett can do some of those things if we’re pressured.  I just felt like we were getting really over-extended. Teams really picking up on John knowing there’s nobody else to alleviate any of that.

“Trev’s been comfortable coming off (the bench). I talked to him before the game.  … I told him after the game I like him a lot better on the bench.”

The Wizards were coming off a 95-78 loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Friday, when they fell behind 22-2 because of the hot shooting of Deron Williams. He made 11 three-pointers.

Ariza only shot 2-for-9 in that start. In the 87-82 loss at the Minnesota Timberwolves earlier in the week, Ariza scored 16 points but went scoreless in the second half.

“You can’t worry about the past,” Ariza said. “I don’t even remember last night’s game.”

Martell Webster, who starts ahead of Ariza at small forward, got the Wizards off to a fast start by making 4 of 5 three-pointers in the first half as they led 59-42 at the break. Webster finished with 20 points on 7-for-13 shooting.

Wall contributed 13 points on 6-for-11 shooting and had six assists.  His backup, A.J. Price, added four points and six assists in 20 minutes.

As Price knows, coming off the bench has its advantages. 

“Some people flourish in that role, embrace it differently, myself being one of them,” Price said. “I think Trevor does too. Just having the opportunity to watch the game at first, see how the game is going, see how the guys are playing you, seeing what they’re doing defensively and schemes. You can make adjustments.”