Wizards

The Washington Wizards needed a spark, and they turned to Garrison Mathews to provide one. 

The former Lipscomb and Franklin standout has been an underdog success story since making the NBA on a G-League contract, but recently, he's been one of the steadier hands on the Wizards roster. 

Washington coach Scotty Brooks called on Mathews off the bench in the team's Jan. 8 game against the Celtics, in which the former Admiral scored four points in 11 minutes. 

"We needed a spark," Brooks said, via The Athletic's Fred Katz. "One thing about Garrison, he’s gonna compete. He’s hungry. Probably should’ve played him earlier in the season.”

Since then, Mathews has taken on a larger role in the rotation -- on Jan. 9 in a 128-124 loss to the Heat, he put up 22 points in 23 minutes. In the team's 128-107 victory over the Suns, Mathews had 11 points in 21 minutes. 

Washington could use his help. They're without star Russell Westbrook right now with a quad issue, and just lost center Thomas Bryant to a season-ending ACL injury. 

On the team's Off the Bench podcast, Mathews discussed what it was like finally getting some meaningful minutes this season.  

"It's been interesting," Mathews said of his joining in the rotation. "You had [Bradley] Beal out with the [COVID-19] protocol a few games ago....that gives guys opportunities that wouldn't normally get opportunities, and I was one of those guys.

"It's been a crazy week...after not playing the first...eight or nine games," Mathews continues, "It was tough to get my wind there for a minute just because I've been sitting for a while, but the coaches do a good job of trying to keep you mentally ready and physically ready as well." 

Mathews, who is averaging 8 PPG this season and is shooting 44.4%, mentioned he was focusing on defense this summer, and mentioned that going up against former Belmont and Golden State player Ian Clark was part of the recipe for success. 

"He's an NBA champion," Mathews said with a laugh about Clark. "He's tough to guard." 

The Wizards are off until Sunday when they'll face the Cleveland Cavaliers in a two-day series. 

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