Marcin Gortat

Marcin Gortat says Wizards are sometimes ‘mentally weak’


Depending on your perspective, the Washington Wizards either blew their game against Phoenix last night by falling behind by 25 points in the third quarter or showed resiliency by cutting the deficit to three points late.

Considering the Suns ultimately won, 99-93, you can guess how the Washington players interpreted the game.

Marcin Gortat, via J. Michael of CSN Washington:

“Embarrassing,” said Gortat, who clearly was choosing his words carefully. “Nobody expected we’re going to play like that. We just didn’t perform.”

Those comments led to this question from me, using Harrington’s Feb. 8 comments — said in a constructively critical fashion, mind you — as a springboard to whether Gortat believes that observation still holds true based on how the Wizards have performed down the stretch.

“Oh, yeah. He’s a veteran,” Gortat said. “He’s definitely a smart guy. Bright guy. I will stand behind his words. Sometimes we just show that mentally we’re weak and just not competing. That’s it.”

The Wizards have lost six of nine, bringing a bit of a crisis of confidence in Washington.

Gortat is getting blunt. Randy Wittman is considering lineup changes.

The Wizards now hold just a 1.5-game lead over the Bobcats for the No. 6 seed and the right to avoid a first-round matchup with the Heat or Pacers, so some concern is certainly understandable. But is something actually going wrong for Washington? Here are the the Wizards’ last nine games:

  • at Heat (loss)
  • vs. Bobcats (loss)
  • at Magic (win)
  • vs. Nets (win)
  • at Kings (loss)
  • at Trail Blazers
  • at Lakers (win)
  • at Nuggets (loss)
  • vs. Suns (loss)

Most of those games are against teams in playoff position. Most of those games are on the road. Going 3-6 in that stretch might be on the low end of the expected range, but I don’t think it’s outside it.

Remember, the Wizards started the season 2-7. Though they played better through most of the middle of the season, they haven’t transformed into an elite team overnight – even if expectations rose quickly.

A small blip in winning doesn’t necessarily make them mentally weak. But Gortat is privy to behind-the-scenes considerations that might make his assessment accurate.

Either way, even if it’s not necessary, an increased sense of urgency won’t hurt anything.

Hezonja throws down one-handed dunk in preseason debut

Orlando Magic Introduce 2015 NBA Draft Picks
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Mario Hezonja, the No. 5 pick in this year’s draft, has never lacked for confidence. The Croatian guard made his pro debut in the Magic’s preseason game against the Hornets on Saturday and did this:

Between Hezonja, Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo and Aaron Gordon, the Magic have a nucleus of young players that has the potential to be a lot of fun. Even if they’re still a few years away from contending, they’re definitely going to be a League Pass favorite this year.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist suffers dislocated shoulder in preseason game

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Solomon Hill
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Preseason is only just getting underway and there’s already a potentially serious injury to report. In the game between the Hornets and Magic on Saturday night, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was taken to the locker room after suffering a right shoulder injury. The Hornets announced that he was then taken to an Orlando-area hospital for follow-up x-rays:

A few hours after the game, the Hornets announced that Kidd-Gilchrist has a dislocated shoulder:

Depending on the severity of the injury, he could miss a few weeks or a few months. Hopefully, it’s the shorter end of that timeline. We should know more on Sunday.