In his first start following the news John Wall will be out up to two months, Satoransky was given what seemed to be an unusually cruel first task, to guard reigning MVP Russell Westbrook just four days after Westbrook cooked the Wizards for a season-high 46 points. Satoransky, though, more than acquitted himself. He showed how a healthy version of himself can be an upgrade of a hobbled Wall on the defensive end.
Last week, Wall was helpless trying to stay in front of Westbrook and it was completely understandable. He was nursing a sore left knee, an injury that would require arthroscopic surgery on Wednesday in Cleveland, OH. It is hard enough guarding Westbrook as it is.
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The Thunder superstar is relentlessly strong and fast. He bullies opponent by constantly attacking the rim and likely saw a matchup against Satoransky as open season.
"He has the fight of an entire team," head coach Scott Brooks, who knows Westbrook well from his days in OKC, said.
But Satoransky stood tall and used his 6-foot-7 frame to give Westbrook fits. There are not many point guards in the NBA bigger than Westbrook, but Satoransky is one of them.
When Westbrook got past him, the Wizards guard directed him to help defense. There were times he recovered with his long arms, on one play blocking Westbrook's shot off the glass during a key second half stretch.
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"I don't know what happened," Satoransky said of the block. "This guy is really an elite athlete. I was so tired in the third quarter. It just makes you appreciate how big of an athlete and how special he is to play like that for 82 games."
The overall results reflected well on Satoransky and the Wizards. Westbrook scored just 13 points, his fewest since Halloween. He had seven turnovers and shot 27.8 percent from the field.
"I think we did a hell of a job," Satoransky said. "You really can't stop him, but you try to stay in front of him. We were trying to let him shoot contested shots, contested twos, I think we did a good job as a team showing him the crowd."
The Wizards have to be encouraged by what they saw from Satoransky on Tuesday. His defense can be a strength during Wall's absence. They know he is unlikely to put up the points and assists Wall does, but Satoransky can help them win in other ways.
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