Wizards enjoy top Kristaps Porzingis during 4-game winning streak
WASHINGTON — Those who attended Wizards games this weekend at Capital One Arena were treated to the max Kristaps Porzingis live. The Wizards big man scored 31 points on Saturday in a win over the Jazz, then 25 to beat the Grizzlies on Sunday. He made 10 threes between those two games, a few on steback dribbles and one to beat a buzzer in the first half. He blocked four shots and threw a vicious slam that is sure to be on the Wizards’ season-ending reel.
Porzingis thrives in Washington. The Wizards have won four straight and sit 8-6 on the year, with Porzingis as one of the key ingredients. With Bradley Beal out and Kyle Kuzma out of his game on Sunday, Porzingis was the star of the show.
“He’ll make moves here and there that will shock you,” head coach Wes Unseld Jr. said of the 7-foot-3 modern wonder. “You see him every day and you can take him for granted, but there aren’t too many people in the world who are able to do what he does.”
Porzingis delivered a thunderbolt in the second quarter when he busted for 14 points, including four threes. Only one Wizards player has scored more in a single quarter this season. It was also Porzingis, with 17 on Oct. 31 against the Sixers.
This scoring push epitomized Porzingis’ upside giveaways. He can take control of matches and when healthy he can reach an unstoppable point.
So far this season, Porzingis has been healthy for the most part. He missed Thursday’s game against the Mavs, his former team, with a sprained groin. But he appeared in 13 of the Wizards’ 14 games averaging 20.5 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.4 blocks per game. He’s shooting 48.9% from the field and 38.7% from three. Field goal percentage and assists are career highs.
Porzingis thinks he has adapted perfectly to the Wizards.
“I love it here…I feel like it’s the right place for me,” he said.
After Sunday’s game, he reiterated some reasons why this is the case. Things like how Washington, DC is closer to his home in Latvia and also closer in his time zone so he can more easily keep in touch with his family.
But on Sunday, he gave more details about why he thinks the basketball cup is good. He told radio analyst Glenn Consor during his Capital One Arena interview that he really likes the “type of basketball” the Wizards play. He later developed in the locker room.
“Just the way we play for each other. We do the extra pass, we cut each other. We do a few little things that might not be as visible, but it’s the real things that help. we win,” Porzingis said.
“Once we get Brad back it will take more pressure off everyone and he can be the focal point of the attack and it’s going to open everything up for everyone. It’s just going to give us more gunpowder or ammunition.”
Unseld Jr. designs much of the wizarding attack around Porzingis. He likes to run plays through him at the high post and in other areas that suit Porzingis’ strengths.
The coach also strives for an equal opportunity offense, where players share the ball regardless of their resume.
“I think he likes the way we play, it fits his style of play,” Unseld Jr said. not play that way?”
Porzingis also credited a productive summer for how he started this season. He enjoyed playing for his national team, took care of his body and made minor changes to his shooting routine to recreate game situations. It sounds simple, but it worked: he now practices wearing the same equipment as in games. For example, he will train in a shooting round, whereas in previous years he only put one on for matches.
Whatever the reason for his hot start, the Wizards are reaping the benefits. They knew they had a player with a ton of potential when they traded for Porzingis in February and right now we’re seeing what it looks like when he’s at his peak.