Ian Mahinmi‘s return from injury has brought a defensive presence to the Wizards‘ bench, writes J. Michael of CSNMidAtlantic. He controlled the lane in the fourth quarter of Tuesday’s comeback win over the Lakers, as L.A. shot just 5-of-21 in the final 12 minutes. Problems with both knees limited Mahinmi to just five games before the All-Star break, but he has played 19 since then and has shown why Washington was willing to give him a four-year, $64MM contract last summer. “He’s a great defender,” said teammate Kelly Oubre. “He’s what we’ve been missing in the paint. I can’t wait until he’s dunking on people like he used to.”
There’s more news from the Southeast Division:
- Serge Ibaka wanted to be used more often at center during his time with the Magic, relays Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel. Ibaka, who was acquired from Oklahoma City last summer and dealt to Toronto after 57 games, said he approached coach Frank Vogel about using him at the five spot in a small-ball lineup. The problem was that the Magic already had centers Nikola Vucevic and Bismack Biyombo in their rotation. Even though he’s with a playoff team now, Ibaka is disappointed that things didn’t work out better in Orlando. “I remember in the beginning, I was so excited,” he said. “Even mentally I was so fresh and excited about the season. But in life sometimes the way we try to do things, or the way we think things can go, may not happen. That’s the case out there in Orlando. But I had good moments there.”
- Terrence Ross, who was sent to the Magic in that deal, got a friendly reception from the fans Monday in his return to Toronto, according to Mike Ganter of The Toronto Sun. The 26-year-old swingman spent four and a half seasons with the Raptors.
- Ersan Ilyasova was both surprised and not surprised to be traded from the Sixers to the Hawks at the deadline, tweets Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly. He thought he fit well in Philadelphia, but adds that he understands the business side of basketball. Ilyasova has been with six teams since the 2014/15 season and will be an unrestricted free agent this summer.