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Hard work finally pays off for Garrett Temple

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Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

WASHINGTON - Life is funny. Each and every moment you live has its own unique circumstances. Every decision one makes builds upon the last one until they've all snowballed into a specific moment.

At that moment, you have the opportunity to grab the bull by the horns and seize the day or you can lie down, fold into obscurity.

And that brings us to one Garrett Temple.

Temple has been the definition of a journeyman throughout his NBA career. He's played for six different teams in six seasons, played ball in Italy and even hit the NBA D-League. At each stop, he's filled various roles with different teams often with very little compensation guaranteed in return.

But opportunity has knocked once again for Temple, and as we said before, the choice is his -- and all season, he's chosen to attack each and every opportunity he's gotten this season.

To earn these opportunities, Temple said, it's all about working hard and playing aggressive and from the look of it, he's as aggressive as he's ever been. Temple has scored career highs in point totals of 21 and 23 points against the Charlotte Hornets and Sacramento Kings, respectively.

He gave some credit to his head coach for the way he's been playing.

"It's being aggressive, man. Just trusting myself. (Randy Wittman) said, before last game, come out thinking this game is going to be the best game you've ever played," Temple said. "I've done that two games in a row."

Coming into the game against the Kings, Temple said, the Wizards found out Gary Neal would not be able to play during shootaround. Once he found that out, he said, he knew he'd need to be aggressive once again and put points on the board.

Normally a defensive specialist capable of being thrown into the fire in the waning moments of a game, the Wizards counted on Temple for more scoring for two games in a row -- a complete role reversal. But yet, when he was called upon, he was ready and did what needed to be done.

"Temp didn't play that many minutes before. Temp is a hard working, hustle player who's shown you 20 points on back to back nights," Jared Dudley said. "He's showing you that he should play more."

The Wizards are not going to be a "pretty team," Dudley said, and will have to scrap night in and night out for their wins. And Temple's play has been essential for the Wizards in their fight to become relevant in the Eastern Conference once again.

Dudley noted how much he repeated Temple's name in giving credit for the Wizards' win over the Kings. "He's providing a huge boost for us," Dudley said.

The Wizards are 4-3 with Temple as a starter, but even going beyond just wins and losses, the numbers in games he starts are impressive.

According to NBA.com's stats, Temple averages 13.3 points per game on 48 percent shooting from the floor with a 52 percent true shooting mark when he starts. He's shooting 44.1 percent from deep on 4.9 threes per game when he starts.

And it's not just Temple that sees a boost in production -- the team has a 16.1 net rating when he's a starter. Their offensive rating of 113.6 which would top the Golden State Warriors for the best offense in the league. Their defensive rating of 97.5 would be good for just second in the league behind the brick wall the San Antonio Spurs have propped up in front of their rims.

Bradley Beal is an essential piece to the Wizards' puzzle, but there is something to simplicity and playing a role that gets the offense going.

Beal has more skill and versatility as a shooter and slasher, but Temple's knack to do just what he needs to do has helped the Wizards more this season than Beal's ability to put the ball on the floor and perform as a secondary ball handler.

So what's the difference between Temple as a starter and a bench player? The opportunity, John Wall says.

"When he's in the starting lineup he's going to get easy shots and he's going to get the ball in transition," Wall said. "He doesn't have to kind of be the main scorer and guys are not worrying about him as much which is great for us because he's able to lock down guys on the other end and make open shots."

With just three guards in the lineup in Wall, Ramon Sessions and Temple and timetables relatively unknown at this point, there could be more change on the way. John Wall has continued to play on a high ankle sprain he suffered in November against the Spurs and recently bruised his ribs against the Kings.

Wall said after the game, his status against Memphis is not in question, but one can only be skeptical with the way the injury bug has bitten the Wizards this season.

But still, no matter what, Temple will be there. He may have to continue to hit curve balls. They do not necessarily have to go out of the park, but the single and occasional double are just fine.