Wizards’ Garrett Temple hit some shots, helped end skid

February 6, 2013
Don't hurt yourself on the way down. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Don’t hurt yourself on the way down. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Garrett Temple put on some sleek Dolce & Gabbana glasses after the Wizards defeated the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday night and John Wall gave him an approving nod as he got dressed in a nearby locker room stall. As Temple approached reporters, he said, “These are prescription, in case anybody wants to know.”

Temple wanted to make it clear that he hadn’t fallen into the NBA’s popular fashion trend which was spawned last postseason, when Dwyane Wade and Russell Westbrook both wore glasses without lenses to coordinate with their outfits.

After finishing with a season-high 15 points and helping the Wizards snap a four-game losing streak with a rare offensive outburst, Temple certainly would’ve been given a pass had he chosen a little flash over functionality. But such a move just would’ve been uncharacteristic for a player schooled in the San Antonio system of simplicity and substance over style.

“I do whatever Coach Witt and the coaching staff needs me to do to try to win games,” Temple said after the Wizards’ 98-90 victory over the Clippers. “First and foremost, be a defender, cause havoc on the defensive end and getting my hands on a lot of balls, try to guard whoever they put me on and also knock down shots.”

The latter has been a problem this season for Temple, and throughout his brief NBA career, but he found a decent offensive rhythm as he made his first four shots and finished 7 of 12 in his fourth start for the injured Bradley Beal.

“It felt good to knock some down and help the team out,” said Temple, who hadn’t reached double digits in scoring since posting 13 points in his second game with the team. “It just opens up the floor. They can’t help out as much. Nene has more room to work. Mek has more room to work. John has more room to drive. They can’t sag off me or the other guys as much if we’re knocking down shots.”

Temple came through for the Wizards during the decisive 11-2 run against the Clippers, making a baseline jumper and stealing a pass from point guard Eric Bledsoe that set up a Wall dunk. He finished with three steals, three blocked shots, three rebounds and two assists in the win.

“Defensively, even though I’m not making shots, I’m going to still be a pest on defense,” said Temple, who is averaging just 4.3 points on 36.8 percent shooting from the floor.

Until Beal returns, the Wizards will likely need Temple to make a few more shots, but Coach Randy Wittman inserted him into the lineup for defensive purposes and his ability to move the ball, since the 6-foot-6 Temple has been a point guard throughout his career. “I pride myself on my versatility. Being able to do different things on the court. They need me to play two, guard twos, I can do that from my vantage point.”

In his first three starts at shooting guard, Temple had scored a total of eight points and made just 4 of 11 shots. Temple played just 11 minutes and Wittman went with A.J. Price in the fourth quarter of the Wizards’ loss to San Antonio, but he was pleased to see him bounce back against the Clippers.

“Garrett stepped in and played with confidence,” Wittman said. “Took the shots that were presented to him, shot them with confidence. I thought he was all over the place defensively, guarded a lot of different people, he was big for us.”

Temple had started six games at point guard and earned a roster spot for the remainder of the season but was pushed back deep on the bench when Wall and Price returned from injury. When Beal comes back, Temple will likely be put back on the shelf for a while, but he remains ready for any situation.

“Garrett was great,” Nene said. “He’s taking opportunity.”

Beal participated in Tuesday’s practice and remains day-to-day with a sprained right wrist. “We didn’t do any contact, but he did shooting,” Wittman said. “He’s still sore, you can tell. But if he’s out there, this is the first day he’s been able to get his wrist going again so we’re heading in the right direction.”

Michael Lee is the national basketball writer for The Washington Post.
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