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Wizards finally start to show trust in Otto Porter
Otto Porter still isn't playing as many minutes as some expect from a No. 3 overall draft pick, but at least he's in coach Randy Wittman's rotation. And there's a sign that more confidence is being shown in Porter after Saturday's comeback win at the Boston Celtics.
That's because Porter was on the court in the fourth quarter when the game was on the line. It marked the first time in six games that he had been called on in such a situation, beyond a few spot or garbage minutes, even though he is averaging less than two points and two rebounds per game.
Porter entered at 11:24 of the fourth for Trevor Ariza with the Wizards behind 78-74 and shared the backcourt with Garrett Temple. His reverse layup on a feed from Temple cut the deficit to 88-84 with 7:37 left. Porter went out for good 81 seconds later. In all, he logged five minutes in the fourth quarter. The Wizards trailed 90-84.
Yes, Porter is a 6-8 small forward who the Wizards (12-13) experimented with at shooting guard during the Las Vegas summer league without much success. There was a right thigh strain and a right hip flexor strain that slowed his progress as Porter missed all of training camp. He scored four points in 2-for-4 shooting in 12 minutes of Saturday's comeback win.
"I've seen improvement. I've seen confidence level. I've seen him being more active. With our situation also with minute limitations for (Bradley Beal and Nene), I've got to continue to try to get those other guys rest, too. That lends something to it," Wittman said. "The last couple of games, that's as active as he has been. I can see in his face that he's getting comfortable going out and playing and knowing what he has to do. Hopefully, that will keep going."
In a win at the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday, Porter played just three minutes in the second quarter. Porter played the final 6:29 of a blowout loss at home to the Los Angeles Clippers last weekend and of his season-high 16 minutes against the Atlanta Hawks he was on the floor for only the first 1:19 of the fourth.
In his other two showings, Porter got on the court because Wittman had a shortened bench with injuries to Beal and Martell Webster. Still, he only played to end the first quarter and to start the second in a loss to the Denver Nuggets. It was seven minutes total. He was on the court for the first 1:30 of the fourth vs. the Milwaukee Bucks but didn't return after exiting.
As Porter continues to show incremental improvements, his quality time on the court will grow, too.
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