Taking a cue from his favorite athlete, the cute Latvian became something of a heavyweight in his own right for the Wizards. As Bradley Bell continues to be sidelined as he ramps up his conditioning after he tested positive for the coronavirus, Borsings led Washington to 102-92 They beat the shortlisted Memphis Grizzlies Sunday night for their fourth straight win.
He did this by writing over the three-point line as if it were a foot shorter. Porzingis scored 25 on a 7-for-15 shot, hit a season high with six three-pointers, and set the rhythm for Washington’s second consecutive night of excellence from behind the arc. The Wizards had put together a season high from the ocean just 24 hours earlier with 16 triples against Utah. They made 19 against Memphis (9-5).
That was all the Witches needed (8-6) against the Grizzlies’ losing team Ja Morant (ankle soreness) and Desmond Bani (toe soreness). It was far from a pretty affair considering all the stars were sidelined – but at least all three of them looked good.
“Offensively, we play better with our speed, our willingness to move and share the ball. I think that’s why we get the triples we produce,” said Wizards coach Wes Onseld Jr. “We’re playing faster, from mistakes. We’ve done a better job with our distances, and the guys are really starting to get a feel for each other how much they want to get shots, how they want to get shots. And that takes time.”
Almost everyone shined for witches on this night. Denny Avdega rode the hot first quarter to a season-high 21 points in an 8-for-16 shot, including four triples. Kyle Kuzma, who has had a non-Covid-19 illness for three games, led the way on the boards with 11 rebounds and added nine points.
For Porzingis, Sunday was another entry in a string of reliably consistent performances that bordered on monotony: he scored in double digits in every game he played. Part of his success – especially this weekend, when he also had 31 points and 10 rebounds against the Jazz – has been linked to the Wizards’ improved spacing on attack.
“I think the way we play for each other – we do the extra pass, we cut each other. We do little things that might not be visible, but those are the things that really help us win,” he said. “And once we get Brad back, I think that will put more pressure on everyone else.”
Another part of that was Porsingeis’ feeling of increasing tempo with his shot. This was his main problem with playing the first few games of the season and something he paid special attention to during the summer. He’s changed his shooting routine and now tries to mimic game-like postures as closely as possible, even when shooting in training or on the road – down to his sleeve, the kind of shirts he plays in and how warm his body is.
Borzingis relied on his shot more in this match after he scored 10 low points in the season against the Grizzlies in the first meeting of the two teams, Loss in Memphis a week ago. He didn’t exactly draw from the UFC, but a different sport was on his mind.
“I realized I didn’t want to waste all that energy wrestling Stephen Adams,” Porsingis said of the Grizzlies Center. “He’s a big guy, and I’m sort of going back to my old days. I’m skinny now, but when I was playing more skinny in Spain against adult men, a lot of times it was about avoiding contact and striving for mass and being able to impact the match in that way.”
Here’s what else you need to know about The Wizards winning:
Bell was on the sidelines again while recovering from COVID-19. Unseld said he hopes the goalkeeper will be back with the team for Wednesday’s home game against Oklahoma City.
Monty Morris’ reputation as a key goalkeeper looking after the ball predates his joining the Wizards. He credited his low spin rate to his mother, who told him as a child learning the game to pretend he was carrying her bag when he hoisted the ball to the ground. When someone approaches you, she would say, don’t let them steal from their mother’s bag.
Morris was excellent to witches in this respect. He had six assists in two games on Sunday after making nine assists and not making a move on Saturday. Its assist to rotation ratio (5.46) is best 11 in the league.
Jordan Goodwin’s influence on witches usually goes beyond his baseline – and his baselines are usually very good. The two-way player had 10 points, eight rebounds and four assists on Sunday, but those numbers didn’t show how impressed he was when he scored early in the first half. Goodwin’s quick hands blew up many of Memphis’s possessions, and his energetic defense, coming off without being overly polluted, caused problems.
While part of the closing group in the fourth quarter, he had an outstanding reel show where he missed a rebound but ran back for a block and shot the ball to Will Barton for a dunk.