The Wizards are set to tip off against the Atlanta Hawks in just more than a half hour, and in addition to Joe Johnson and Mike Bibby, Washington must be mindful of center/forward Zaza Pachulia, who last time the teams met racked up 18 rebounds for the Hawks.
The 6-foot-11, 275-pound Pachulia started that game in place of the injured Al Horford, but will come off the bench tonight. Expect to see a heavy dose of Darius Songaila after his solid performance against Orlando’s Dwight Howard on Thursday night.
Tapscott first threw JaVale McGee at Howard, then Andray Blatche, but both quickly fell into foul trouble. Then came Etan Thomas, but he too struggled to avoid foul trouble against the powerful Howard. The Wizards’ best option ended up being the 6-foot-9 Songaila, who managed to frustrate Howard while notching 12 points and three rebounds himself.
It was the second game in three outings that Songaila notched double digits, and Tapscott said he will continue give Songaila minutes as long as his production and matchups warrant it.
“Our most effective defender of the night on Dwight was Darius,” Tapscott said. “That’s an X-factor. That’s not something I would have normally thought just based upon matchups and physically and what we’ve seen before. So all of a sudden Darius is in the game, taking shots from Dwight Howard and giving them right back. He played very hard and then he delivered a few nice mid-range jumpers. So, as you learn your team, and you learn the possibility of this X-factor coming in and playing, you try to program that into your game plan. That was a nice surprise, but trust me, Darius will be coming off the bench early tonight.
“You asked about Pachulia?” Tap continued. “Darius will have the chance to matchup against Pachulia.”
The starting lineup will remain the same tonight, and the inactive again will be Oleksiy Pecherov. Tapscott said it isn’t because the second-year forward is doing something wrong, but that because of injuries the last year and summer, he’s behind in his development defensively and that since he’s more perimeter minded, his size isn’t as much of an assett to the team right now.