The Washington Wizards are hoping journeyman Drew Gooden can provide some more contributions in their push for one of the Eastern Conference’s top four seeds and home-court advantage in the opening round of the playoffs.
After the best performance in his brief tenure with the team, Gooden will try to help the Wizards start a four-game Western road trip by beating one of his many former clubs, the Sacramento Kings, on Tuesday night.
Gooden began playing for his 10th team after signing the first of two 10-day contracts with the Wizards on Feb. 26. Washington (35-31) might look to keep the 6-foot-10 forward for the rest of the season after his latest performance.
The 32-year-old Gooden had 11 of his season-high 21 points in the fourth quarter of a 101-94 victory over Brooklyn on Saturday. He also grabbed nine rebounds, and John Wall provided a team-best 33 points in the Wizards’ 10th win in 13 games.
"He’s been a big spark for us. A lot of our guys should learn from that. He worked, worked and worked to keep himself ready. It’s hard to do that," coach Randy Wittman said. "It’s been a really good pick-up for us."
Washington suffered back-to-back defeats before winning its last two games. Those wins have kept the Wizards one-half game in front of Brooklyn for fifth place in the East, and they are just 1 1/2 back of fourth-place Chicago.
Washington will try to cut that deficit on the idle Bulls by continuing their recent success on the road. The Wizards have won six of seven away from home and would appear to have a chance to add another victory when they face the struggling Kings (23-44).
Sacramento went 2-5 to wrap up a season-high seven-game road trip. The Kings were dealt back-to-back defeats to end that lengthy trek, and DeMarcus Cousins sat out Sunday’s 104-102 loss to Minnesota because of tendinitis in his right knee.
The Kings used Isaiah Thomas’ 27 points and 26 from Derrick Williams to stay close to the Timberwolves for much of the game. Williams, taken No. 2 overall by Minnesota in 2011, also had 11 rebounds for his 15th career double-double and fifth in 53 games with Sacramento.
"I just wanted to be aggressive because (DeMarcus) Cousins was out and I was the next man up," Williams said. "Coach (Mike Malone) wants me to be aggressive and that’s what I did tonight."
Cousins, the team’s leading scorer and rebounder, is considered day-to-day. He had his worst shooting performance of the season (3 of 16) in the only other matchup with Washington this season, a 93-84 road loss Feb. 9, but finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds.
Thomas had 30 points in that game while the currently injured Nene (sprained left knee) led five Wizards players in double figures with 18. That balanced effort helped Washington end a three-game skid in the series.
The Wizards have dropped three in a row in Sacramento.
Gooden played one game with Sacramento – a home loss to Charlotte on Feb. 25, 2009 – after being acquired in a three-team deal one week earlier. His contract was bought out by the Kings on March 1 of that year.