Wizards (20-21) at Suns (24-17)
January 24, 2014 at 9:00 PM
US Airways Center, Phoenix, AZ
TV: CSN Washington
Radio: 106.7FM The Fan
Projected starting lineups:
C- Marcin Gortat
SF- Trevor Ariza
SG- Bradley Beal
PG- John Wall
C- Mike Plumlee
PF- Channing Frye
SF- P.J. Tucker
SG- Gerald Green
PG- Goran Dragic
Marcin Gortat will be revisiting a city he played in for 3 seasons before he became the remedy to a herniated Wizards’ front court. The indefinite timetable for Emeka Okafor’s summertime hernia forced the Wizards to seek a replacement, and they aptly found one in this towel-ripping, media inducing charmer from Poland. In his initial stint with the Wizards, Gortat has, so far, feasibly filled in Okafor’s shoes and has anchored the interior to the best of his abilities, at least from what I’ve seen. He’s not quite the rim protector we saw in Okafor, although he does have a slightly higher percentage of blocks per game. Also worth noting is Gortat’s production on the glass along with his scoring numbers have eclipsed what Okafor provided last season as well.
While Gortat has stated that there is “no hard feelings” between he and the Suns franchise nor the fan base, he does want to “beat them bad.”
Assuming Wittman decides to go to Gortat early in the game, it’ll be fun to watch how Gortat actually does perform in light of his pregame comments. I’m sure there are a few unfavorable fans in the crowd as well as the Phoenix media to spark him. That could be a good thing or bad thing.
What happened last time they played?
The Wizards won their first game in Phoenix since 2006. That’s five straight games. They won 88-79 despite blowing an 18-point first half lead. John Wall led the way with 19 points and eight assists, most of them going to Ariza and Webster for 3’s.
Ironically, both Gortat and Okafor sat out this game for their previous teams. The Wizards would also lose Bradley Beal in this game late in the 4th quarter to a sprained ankle.
Side note: This Wizards’ victory in March would be only their 6th road win of the season. They’ve won 10 already this season.
Wizards: Al Harrington, of course. Glen Rice is currently regenerating some mojo out in the D-League and balling out for the Iowa Energy.
Suns: Eric Bledsoe is out indefinitely with a knee injury. Also, Emeka Okafor if this is the only segment you’ve read.
Oh, these ever so ambitious Wiz Kids so poised for success, yet so majorly barred by unbreakable mediocrity. The last time the Wizards faced a road trip they expressed visible, and audible relief to be getting away. Ater 3 straight home losses which included a familiar missed opportunity to rise above .500 who could blame them? They weirdly seemed much more fluid playing on the road than at home anyways.
The Wizards have gone 3-1 on the road since the beginning of that road trip and like last time, they need to get it going again ASAP. Bradley Beal has grown fond of the phrase “you gotta have amnesia” after most games, including the, well, forgettable Boston game.
As for the Suns, they’ve been quite the surprise in the West. Jeff Hornacek’s squad was designed for a good old fashioned tank job this season, but instead find themselves winning 24 games to 17 losses. They current stand 7th in the West and just a game behind Golden State.
What’s been working for them you ask? Let’s start with Hornacek, who has herded these young bucks beautifully so far this season, developing some depth in his rotation and getting the most out of what he’s been given to work with. Led by an uprising Goran Dragic, the Suns have five guys who average double digit points with three more who average just over nine. And boy did they draft well. While Alex Len has been slow to produce this season after double ankle surgeries, Duke standout Mason Plumlee has stepped in averaging just around 10 and 9 a game.