The Shortest Presser of Marcin Gortat's Career (after another 4th quarter absence) | Wizards Blog Truth About

The Shortest Presser of Marcin Gortat’s Career (after another 4th quarter absence)

Updated: February 25, 2015


Randy Wittman jabbed his eye with a finger as he responded to pestering questions about why Marcin Gortat didn’t see a single minute of action during the fourth quarter in Washington’s 107-114 loss to Golden State on Tuesday. It was a matchup thing, the coach said, concurring with the line of questioning.

“Yep, they had (Draymond) Green and (Harrison) Barnes at the 4 and 5, or take your pick, (Stephen) Curry at the 4. Whoever you want to play it, they had four smalls, then five smalls,” said the the Wizards coach.

Barnes played the entire fourth quarter as the ‘4’ for the Warriors, you could say (or at the ‘3’—who really knows). David Lee played six minutes at the 5 and Green the other half at the 5. Andre Igoudala played the entire quarter at the 3 (or 4). Klay Thompson played 10 minutes at the 2 (Leandro Barbosa got the other two minutes). Curry played six minutes at the 1, and former Wizard Shaun Livingston played six minutes while Curry rested.

Washington’s reserves (the second unit of Ramon Sessions, Martell Webster, Rasual Butler, Kris Humphries, and Kevin Seraphin)—bless each and every one of their hearts—although generally terrible, held down the fort to the tune of plus-1 over their minutes to open the fourth quarter. Nene played 7:40 of the fourth quarter and close to five of those minutes were spent alongside Kris Humphries. Small lineups featuring Nene at the 5 and a drained Paul Pierce at the 4 lasted four fourth quarter minutes. None of these lineups, mind you, were very successful.

There’s clearly something more behind the strategy of benching Gortat. Wittman later got terse when pressed by CSN’s Chris Miller, stating that Nene can guard off the dribble (and, welp, Gortat cannot, in essence). “That was my decision, not yours, so that’s the one I went with,” Wittman added.

But why not make Golden State adjust to a big lineup? It’s a good question. If Wittman knew that Steve Kerr was going to go small, which, perhaps he should have, then maybe he would have put Gortat in at the beginning of the fourth quarter to go against David Lee.

On the season, two of Golden State’s three most-used lineups in the fourth quarter feature two big men (by the Warriors’ standards) alongside Curry, Thompson, and Igoudala—Andrew Bogut and Green (49 minutes); and Speights and Green (39 minutes). The same lineup seen down the stretch Tuesday night—Curry, Thompson, Igoudala, Barnes, and Green—has seen 48 minutes on the year, so damn near the unit Steve Kerr uses the most late in close games. Several other fourth quarter lineups for the Warriors also feature “four smalls.”

You should probably give more credit to Draymond Green, too. Drafted three slots after Washington took Tomas Satoransky in the second round of the 2012 NBA draft, Green can drive the gaps past a big man like Gortat (while Gortat’s teammates are forced to stay home on shooters, or not); Green can shoot the rock (he’s getting better and better from deep—34% this season); and Green can keep a big man like Gortat, who doesn’t usually stick his nose right under the rim, out of their comfort zone. Green gave Nene, more of a brute force than Gortat, fits all night, save for the first 80 seconds of the game when Nene scored five points and drew two fouls (and ultimately, a technical) on Green. Nene scored just four points the rest of the way—on a single shot and two free throws in the fourth (when he also missed two free throws). 

Matching Gortat up against Green also seems like a recipe for disaster and a target for coaching critique.

Per, Gortat has played in 35 fourth quarters this season, more than only Drew Gooden, DeJuan Blair, and Martell Webster (three sparingly used substitutes). And when he does play, Gortat averages 4.4 fourth quarter minutes, the fewest on the Wizards after Garrett Temple. When Gortat plays in the fourth quarter, the Wizards are 21-14. When he doesn’t, just 12-10.

For what it’s worth, Gortat is fifth on the Wizards in standard “crunch time” minutes (last five minutes, ahead or behind by five points). He’s played 59 minutes after Wall’s 132, Pierce’s 116, Nene’s 92, and Beal’s 87. Humphries has played 55 crunch time minutes and Rasual Butler 58. None of these players aside from Butler have a positive plus-minus in crunch time. Gortat is by far the worst at minus-21.4 points per 36 minutes.

So, with Gortat’s absence from crunch time seemingly so consistent, it’s hard to gauge whether not playing him again Golden State in this one specific instance was the right move or not. John Wall agreed with Wittman’s strategy (even if the issue on this night should have been more about Wall’s eight, mostly careless, turnovers, as opposed to Gortat’s absence in the fourth).

“Only thing I can say is it’s tough when a team goes with all five shooters,” Wall said. “They spread the court with Draymond Green at the 5, Igoudala at the 4, Barnes at the 3. We tried to match what they had, but it was tough. They’re a team that can play in different ways. Those guys did a great job of switching pick-and-rolls, making you take tough shots, or double-teaming the post. That’s how they took away and got a lead at the end, they went small.”

And Gortat? Not exactly a happy camper. The mounting frustration over losing, over not playing, over whatever, led to what was likely the shortest media session of his career.

The complete video is below (along with a video of Wittman’s comments), but let’s look at Gortat’s quotes in full:


(On where they lost the game.)

“I think we had too many turnovers. I mean, period.”

(On if he wanted to play during the 4th quarter.)

“Of course.”

(On if he expected to be out there.)

“Uh, yes”

(On if not being out there was discouraging.)

“Um, I’ll say just next question.”

(On if the backcourt and the frontcourt are better syncing up with defensive coverages.)

“Um, yea. I think we’re doing better and better. But it wasn’t enough today.”

(On how he would quantify his frustration level.)

“Out of the roof, out of the roof. Really high, out of the roof.”

(On if he expected to be in this position this late in the season.)

“Tough to say. Really tough. It’s obviously were going to lose some games, but, yea.…”

(On if he’s more frustrated in how the Wizards are losing these games.)

“Yea, I am. I don’t know what to tell you guys, seriously. I don’t have any lines to tell you that we lost 9 out of 11, whatever we lost. I mean, I don’t know what to tell you. I’m not going to stand here and try to produce … I don’t know what to tell you. It’s frustrating, man, it’s frustrating.”


Marcin Gortat.

Randy Wittman.

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Kyle Weidie
Founder / Editor / Reporter / Writer at TAI
Kyle founded TAI in 2007 and has been weaving in and out the world of Wizards ever since, ducking WittmanFaces, jumping over G-Wiz, and avoiding stints on the DNP-Conditioning list. He has covered the Washington pro basketball team as a member of the media since 2009. Kyle currently lives in Brooklyn, NY with his wife, loves basketball, and has no pets.