Kevin Seraphin didn’t get the chance to play against Dwight Howard until one minute into the third quarter of the Wizards’ 114-107 loss to the Houston Rockets, when Marcin Gortat was flat on his back, angrily looking toward the ceiling with his hands behind his head after picking up his fourth personal foul.
And Seraphin didn’t initially appear to be up to the challenge, leaving Howard free to double-team Jeremy Lin 20 seconds after entering the game, then turning to watch Howard catch a pass from Lin, throw down an easy two-hand alley-oop dunk and swing on the rim. In Seraphin’s first four minutes on the floor, the Rockets extended a 16-point lead to 25.
Seraphin would later rebound a Trevor Ariza three-point attempt, toss in a lefty hook shot over Howard and lead the most spirited and unfulfilling comeback of the season.
“I love it. I enjoy it. That was really a good time,” Seraphin said of the 49-19 run that allowed the Wizards to take a short-lived lead. “We play real hard. We had a good time. For me, everything was going well. It was just a good run and it was amazing.”
Seraphin scored 18 points, all in the second half, and kept Gortat on the bench the rest of the game. He put the Wizards ahead, 102-97, with another putback layup with 5:26 remaining, but wouldn’t score again as the rally halted. But Seraphin was effective on the defensive end as he helped to hold Howard scoreless in the fourth quarter.
“I know I had to be ready against him,” Seraphin said of Howard. “I don’t mean like I’m not prepared for another guy, but for him, I got more attention because he’s really dangerous inside. If you’re not ready to play against him, or just go out, he will just destroy you. That’s why I was definitely ready. Even though we had a long game, I was still ready. I knew what I supposed to do on him.”
Seraphin’s performance against Howard may have been surprising to some, but has played well before against the seven-time all-star center. Two years ago, Seraphin scored a then-career-high 12 points and also blocked one of Howard’s jump hooks in just 22 minutes in a 109-103 loss to the Orlando Magic.
But the effort was perhaps stunning since Seraphin hasn’t played much in the new year. He didn’t appear in three games while Jan Vesely earned some minutes, then was given three minutes of scraps in the Wizards’ embarrassing 93-66 loss to the Indiana Pacers. The Wizards actually needed him in that game because his hook shot in the final minute helped the team avoid matching the franchise record for scoring futility in a game.
“Just give him a lot of credit because he’s had some DNPs the last three, four games. And got called on in this game when our bigs is in foul trouble, he came in and played big for us,” John Wall said. “That’s somebody who’s being a professional and always staying ready.”
Seraphin admitted that the fluctuating playing time has been a challenge, but he also understands that he has played a role in his inconsistent minutes.
“It’s really hard if you don’t know you’re going to play. All I really try to do is be prepared,” Seraphin said. “Because I have a game against Atlanta when I have an opportunity, and I was not ready and I struggled on the court. I was prepared against the Clippers and I had a good game. I had another good game against Brooklyn. So I have to be prepared. He can’t call me all the time, because you never know, foul trouble. Then I get [a chance], I took it.”
Seraphin has scored in double figures in four of his past eight games and has recently overcome a bone bruise in his right knee. “For sure, all I want is to get my opportunity, like, when he give me a chance to play,” Seraphin said of Wittman, “it gives me confidence.”