- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 19, 2017

There was a little luck associated with win No. 13.

Memphis small forward James Ennis shot a wide open 3-pointer as the clock ran out and the Grizzlies were down three points. Unlike Washington’s trip to Memphis for the second game of the season, this last-second 3-pointer did not go in to tie the game.

“We got a great look at it,” Memphis coach David Fizdale said. “I think James was even surprised he was so open. I know Scottie [Brooks] probably wanted to kill a couple of his guys for leaving him open like that. Yeah, we got the look we wanted and it didn’t go in.”

The miss vaulted Washington’s home winning streak to 13 games following a 104-101 victory. It is the organization’s longest home winning streak since a 15-game home streak in 1989. The last time the Wizards, who are suddenly 22-19, were three or more games over .500 was at the end of the 2015 season, when they were 46-36 and going to the playoffs.

A little more than two months ago, they were 2-8 after being blown out in Philadelphia by a 76ers team that played without Joel Embiid. Asked Wednesday if he thought the Wizards would leave that point and get to this one, Markieff Morris said, “Hell, yeah.”

With that, three points from the evening:

Otto Porter’s shooting has unlocked the offense. We’ve harped on this again and again, but it’s not to be overlooked. Porter is shooting 45 percent from behind the 3-point line after going 6-for-8 on Wednesday. He’s second in the league percentage. His open looks are being generated by the mechanics of the rest of the Wizards’ offense. Marcin Gortat’s rolls help. Bradley Beal’s threat on the other side helps. John Wall’s ability to turn the corner after a screen or to suck in a defense on the break helps. Grizzlies center Marc Gasol explained the problem:

“You have to kind of pick your poison on the pick-and-roll,” Gasol said. “When the initial action is not played correctly, and they get to the paint either with a drive or a pass, somebody has to help and you have to pick whether to come off Bradley Beal, or to come off Porter. So you pick the one guy, and he got hot on threes and got going.”

There was also another issue for Memphis. The defensively-dedicated Tony Allen explained where Porter was on the list of Memphis‘ priorities.

“I didn’t even know he was on the scouting report today,” Allen said. “I didn’t hear two words about him today in the shootaround. It was just a lot about (Bradley) Beal and (John) Wall, Beal and Wall. Like I said, we gotta pay better attention to our opponents and have a little better focus coming into games, you let guys, the others, when the others, guys like him, (Markieff) Morris, you let those guys be highlights of the day, there is going to be pressure on your defense.”

The scouting report obviously starts with Beal and Wall. But, to have Porter viewed as just another role player will lead to the kind of punishment he delivered Wednesday: 25 points on 12 shots.

A settled (for now) rotation. Kelly Oubre was the first player off the bench, replacing Morris and sliding Porter to the four. Jason Smith came in next. Tomas Satoransky followed him. To start the second quarter, Trey Burke was on the floor. Out of the rotation are Andrew Nicholson, Sheldon McClellan and Marcus Thornton. During the three-game winning streak the Wizards are currently on, this has been the formula for Brooks. When asked about it pregame, he didn’t commit to this sticking as the rotation going forward. It may be tweaked as soon as Thursday, when the Wizards go to New York for the second night of a back-to-back. The Wizards are just 1-7 in the second game of back-to-backs this season.

Halfway home. Wednesday’s game against Memphis brought the Wizards to the middle of the season. They are 22-19, which is surprising given their start, but also in line with many preseason predictions (that did not anticipate the mess to open the season). That puts them fifth in the Eastern Conference. After an odd night of results across the conference, Washington is just 1.5 games out of the four spot. It will be spending more time on the road the rest of the season. Washington has 24 road games and 17 home games remaining. Of the 24 road games, five come in the final seven games of January. Also in the mix is a home game against the Boston Celtics on Jan. 24. That will be one to watch. Washington will carry its 13-game home winning streak into a game against a team it has been playing physical games against for the past two years. When the teams met in Boston last week, a postgame fight almost broke out following a face-to-face discussion between John Wall and Jae Crowder. Despite the home winning streak, attendance remains poor. The number distributed by the team on Wednesday was 15,079. It appeared fewer. The Wizards are 27th in attendance in the 30-team league.

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