Wizards’ Martell Webster believes defense fuels his offense

December 27, 2013

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Martell Webster was disappointed with his performance last week in Boston, and it had nothing to do with him scoring just five points in 21 minutes of a 106-99 victory over the Celtics at TD Garden.

“We got the win, it was good, but I think 14 points were scored on me,” said Webster, one of several victims during Celtics guard Avery Bradley’s second-half scoring binge. “That feels bad, because for me, in order to get a rhythm, I have to get it going defensively and last game was a poor effort and I have to step it up on the defensive end.”

Webster had broken out of a mini-slump with a season-high 30-point eruption against the New York Knicks on Dec. 16, but he doesn’t believe that his success came simply because he made six three-pointers after failing to connect from long distance in his previous two games after returning from a sprained left ankle.

To Webster, those makes came because of the way he contested shots and contained his man on the defensive end. His activity was evident though not effective early in a 102-101 win over the Knicks, as he had a kickball violation and also a goaltending violation trying to block a layup by Knicks guard Tim Hardaway Jr. But Webster believes that his offensive production clouded his overall contribution to the team, because he also had six rebounds, a block and steal that led to one of his three-pointers on the other end.

“The big thing for me is not caring, and I don’t care at all about the offensive end. I don’t,” Webster said. “I can shoot the ball without any pressure. That’s the most important thing for me. As long as I can get myself into the game defensively it allows me to come down and put myself in a rhythm offensively. I’m not really worried about the offensive end.”

Webster is averaging a career-high 12.8 points in his second season with the Wizards. He has scored a total of 48 points on 14-of-23 shooting (60.9 percent) since moving back to a reserve role with Bradley Beal back in the lineup the past three games. In 13 starts for both the injured Beal and Trevor Ariza, Webster found his form offensively and averaged 13.8 points, but won’t credit the switch for his improved play after a slow start coming off the bench.

“Nothing. It didn’t do anything. Starting had nothing to do with scoring points,” Webster said. “Me not caring, that’s my motto. I don’t care on the offensive end and I’ll continue to keep that mind-set.”

Webster also swears that he doesn’t care about going up against the Minnesota Timberwolves, the team that cut him two summers ago to clear up salary cap space and avoid paying him his full salary. That angry glare that Webster flashed when he made his fifth three-pointer to give the Wizards the lead for good in a 104-100 victory over Minnesota last month was just the excitement of the moment taking over.

When the Wizards take on the Timberwolves on Friday at Target Center, Webster isn’t out to prove a point, especially after Washington provided some security with a four-year, $22 million extension last summer.

Coach Randy Wittman believes that Webster isn’t doing much different from his breakout campaign last season.

“I think he’s comfortable with what we’re doing,” Wittman said of Webster. “We saw that last year with his play. I think he’s comfortable, kind of stepped in where he is last year.”

The Wizards (12-13) are unbeaten since Webster returned to the team’s bench, which has struggled for most of the season. But Webster doesn’t want the team to be content since it still has yet to get over .500 this season.

“In this league, it’s easy to become complacent. You have a little success and you think it’s going to come easy and that’s not the case in this league,” Webster said. “You can get exposed very quickly and it’s a matter of consistency. When we’re consistent, we’re a team to reckon with.”

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