PORTLAND, Ore. — Garrett Temple doesn’t take his NBA career for granted. It doesn’t matter if he’s already logged nearly 400 more minutes and three more starts through 62 games than in any of the other campaigns on his resume. The Washington Wizards’ guard remembers the stops in the D-League and overseas and how long it took to solidify his place in the league.
“I understand that a lot of people would like to be in my position right now,” Temple said after shoot-around at Moda Center Tuesday morning. “I’m happy with how far I’ve come but I know I got a lot left to give.”
Still, when he assesses his season, one in which he has been a major contributor for the Wizards for the duration, he believes he can be more consistent. His first 10 games out of the all-star break — all starts — were the lowest offensive point of Temple’s season; he shot just 24.6 percent from the field, including 24.1 percent from three-point range, and 58.3 percent from the free-throw line in 24.2 minutes per game.
He rebounded to score 11 points on 5 of 7 shooting in Saturday’s loss to the Indiana Pacers, though he committed a costly turnover down the stretch. And now, Temple will be called on to step up again at least Tuesday, if not for the remainder of Washington’s pivotal three-game road trip, when he starts at shooting guard while Bradley Beal recovers from a sprained pelvis he sustained Saturday.
“Not shooting well,” Temple, 29, said of his recent struggles. “It may be pressing. You go through slumps like that as an NBA player. The best go through slumps like that. So it’s going to happen. Hopefully Saturday ended that and we can start getting back on a streak, where I’m playing well, the team’s playing well, and we’re piling up some wins.
Beal, Washington’s second-leading scorer, didn’t travel with the Wizards to Oregon, but could join the team later this week and return to play against the Utah Jazz Friday or against the Denver Nuggets Saturday. In the meantime, Temple, who got the 10 starts out of the break at shooting guard because of Beal’s minutes restriction, will return to the starting lineup Tuesday to join point guard John Wall opposite one of the best backcourts in the NBA in Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum.
The Wizards will also be without Gary Neal, the team’s top bench scorer this season, for the 14th consecutive game Tuesday because of a right leg injury. Scoring will need to come from other sources.
“When I was scoring a lot, it wasn’t like I was pressing,” said Temple, who led the Wizards with 18 points in their loss to the Trail Blazers in January. “I was letting the game come to me. We were getting stops, which means we could get a lot of transition offense. That’s where I thrive, in transition. That’s just the mindset we have to have as a team, that we have to get stops and more easy baskets with our second-leading scorer out.
“So it’s not just on me. It’s on the whole team in terms of guys being ready to shoot, aggressive. Myself, Otto [Porter Jr.] . But it’s about defending, getting stops we can get out in transition and get easy baskets that way.”
ANDERSON STILL RESTRICTED
Alan Anderson’s minutes limit has been raised to 24 — from 16 and 20 since his season debut on Feb. 24 — and he’ll play Tuesday night against the Trail Blazers, but he said his status for the remainder of the road trip is uncertain. The Wizards have held Anderson back from playing both games of the two back-to-back sets on the schedule since Anderson debuted and the plan, according to Anderson, is to have him play either against the Jazz on Friday or the Nuggets on Saturday, not both.
Anderson is averaging 9.2 points while shooting 50 percent from three in 18.4 minutes in five games entering Tuesday.