WASHINGTON — If one has been following the Washington Wizards over the past few games, it may feel as if reserve forward Mike Scott cannot miss a shot.
That’s because he almost has not missed one. Scott, an offseason free agent signing who came over after five years in Atlanta, continued his pinpoint shooting accuracy display in tonight’s 100-91 win over the Los Angeles Clippers, going for 22 points while hitting nine of his 10 shots from the field. Somehow, he topped his performance he had against the Clippers in Los Angeles last Saturday, when he went 9-for-11 from the field while also scoring 22 points in a one-point loss.
“He loves to play against the Clippers, I know that,” joked head coach Scott Brooks in the postgame press conference.
While the red and blue color scheme of the Clippers seems to make Scott’s eyes bulge, his recent play has been just shy of being described as perfect; Over the last six games, Scott is shooting a robust 79.1 percent from the field (34-for-43), a streak that includes eight made three-pointers out of 14 attempts.
Each of Scott’s last three seasons has been interrupted by injury, and last season saw Scott play a career-low 18 games after having ankle surgery last July and then missing the first month of the season due to left knee soreness caused by overcompensating for his ankle.
Also in the last three years was a legal matter from July of 2015, when Scott and his brother, Antonn, were arrested on drug charges stemming from a traffic stop just northeast of Atlanta. This past May, a Superior Court judge suppressed all evidence and dismissed the felony drug case after it was determined that both Scott and his brother were targets in a racial profiling scheme when they were pulled over in their rented SUV.
Now that injuries and legal concerns are past him, Scott’s sole concentration on basketball has allowed him to have one of the best stretches of his career.
“I work so hard on my game,” said Scott after the win against Los Angeles tonight. “I know I had a lot of issues off the court, which helps a lot of weight off my shoulders playing, playing freely. No injuries, so it feels good just to play basketball.”
Asked to provide a much-needed scoring punch off the bench, Scott is well on his way to setting personal career highs in field goal percentage and three-point percentage while averaging a shade under nine points per contest.
“He’s been playing well,” said Brooks. “I love him. I love how he plays. I love how he competes. I love how he prepares. It’s not a fluke. You prepare the right way, you’re going to have success. All the guys see it, and they’re happy for him.”
His teammates also know Scott’s play is not a fluke either, and they are glad he is now putting up these numbers as a member of the Wizards instead of being an opponent.
“I liked Mike a lot when he was at Atlanta,” said Wizards point guard John Wall, who had 15 points, six rebounds and five assists in the win over the Clippers. “I didn’t know why he stopped playing a lot, but he was always the person that would kill us when we played. I didn’t know he shot the ball that well. The way he moves the ball and plays on both ends of the floor has helped our team a lot, and he’s given Markieff [Morris] a boost until he finds his rhythm getting back from injury.”
With his health issues behind him and settling in with a new team, is this the best Scott has played in his career?
““Definitely,” said Scott when posed that question. “I don’t know what to say, but I just keep my same routine, take the same shots. I don’t try to force any shots, I just take what the defense gives me, make the extra pass, play the right way. Good things happen when you play the right way. “
His head coach agrees.
“He’s not looking for shots, he’s not searching for them, he’s just getting them by doing the right things,” said Brooks.
Brooks continued: “I didn’t know who [Scott] was as a worker. I didn’t know his professionalism is as high as it is now. We’re happy to get him. I’m surprised a lot of teams didn’t go after him [in the offseason]. We’re happy they didn’t. We’re happy he picked us in September.”
Consistently Inconsistent Wizards
Washington took the floor tonight against a team that not only was four games under .500 in the Los Angeles Clippers, but a team that was missing a slew of key players due to injury or rest.
That could only mean one thing for the Wizards: trouble ahead.
Calling the Wizards the most enigmatic team in the league so far this season is not a stretch, and the main reason is because of their splits against teams .500 or better as opposed to those below .500. Going into tonight, only the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers among Eastern Conference teams had better records than the Wizards’ 8-5 mark against teams at or above .500. Boston and Cleveland came into Friday night with a combined 45-14 record overall.
Conversely, only the Atlanta Hawks and Chicago Bulls among Eastern Conference teams had worse records than the 7-8 record Washington sported against teams below .500. Atlanta and Chicago came into Friday night with a 13-42 combined overall record.
Less than a week after losing to the now 11-16 Clippers, Los Angeles managed to overcome a 15-point third-quarter deficit tonight, tying the game at 82 midway through the fourth quarter after a couple of careless turnovers in the backcourt committed by the Wizards. Fortunately for Washington, Markieff Morris’ steal of an inbounds pass and running layup on the other end started a 7-0 run for the Wizards, building an 89-82 lead on their way to getting out of Capital One Arena with a victory.
Even with the win, the team knows the inconsistency against teams mired towards the bottom of the NBA standings has to stop.
“It’s crazy because I think our record is better with teams that are over .500 than under .500,” said Wizards guard Bradley Beal, who ended the game with 20 points. “That’s a pure image of it: being complacent, being lackadaisical and thinking the game is going to come easy. We got to respect every opponent and know that everybody’s a pro. There are only 450 jobs and they deserve it as well as we do. We got to come out with respect to each opponent.”
Tonight’s opponent was missing the likes of Blake Griffin, Danilo Gallinari, Austin Rivers and Patrick Beverley due to injury, as well as guard Milos Teodosic, who was rested.
“They were a shorthanded team but they still have guys like Lou [Williams] and DeAndre [Jordan], and a bunch of guys who can fill up the stat sheet in a variety of ways. We have to make sure we’re prepared each game, no matter who’s on the floor.”
Williams, who scored 35 points off the bench six days ago against Washington, started the game tonight and led the Clippers with 23 points. Jordan ended the game with 12 points and 16 rebounds.
There will be no worries about whether the Wizards will be up for their next game; LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers come into the nation’s capital as Washington’s opponent on Sunday evening.