The Wizards have this beating the Charlotte Bobcats business down. In two wins over the Bobcats over a span of four days, the Wizards enjoyed a blowout victory and survived a close call on the road. The bar has been raised. The Wizards host the Chicago Bulls tonight.
As cliche as it may sound, Wizards coach Randy Wittman says it doesnt matter who the opponent is, the principles remain the same. Wittman is focused on breaking the Wizards of what he calls bad habits. There were signs of progress Saturday when the Wizards didnt fold after the Bobcats grabbed a fourth-quarter lead. They still found a way to secure a 102-99 win.
This was a good learning experience, Wittman said after the win over the Bobcats. Our guys grew tonight. We hung tough. We didnt panic. We made plays down the stretch.
The need for his team to stay calm under pressure is something Wittman discussed before the game against the Bobcats. One of the Wizards bad habits all season has been responding to opposing teams runs with possessions that include little or no passing, usually ending with bad shots. In Fridays loss to the Rockets, a promising start collapsed when the Wizards responded with a rash of turnovers.
Too often in those situations, we try to go for the home run play, Wittman said. "When they opponents go on a little run, we have to pause and make sure we make that extra pass to get a good shot.
While the Wizards need to take their time at critical moments of the game, this is a team that also is trying not to waste time. In the three games Wittman has coached, the Wizards have maintained a commitment to an up-tempo style. On made shots or missed shots by the opposing team, the Wizards have been looking to get the ball and just go.
A quicker pace for the Wizards certainly fits John Walls game as long as he stays under control. Essential in the Wizards' success at this increased speed is not only rebounding, but also intensity on defense. In part, this change in style has brought a change in the starting lineup with Jan Vesely now at power forward ahead of Andray Blatche.
We want to run and he can run, Wittman said of Vesely. He fits right in with what we want do from pace standpoint. From basketball IQ standpoint, he is very good. He knows situations and extra passes and reading defenses.
As the Wizards try to push the ball against the Bulls, they will face a team eager to push back. On Sunday, the Bulls lost in Miami to the Heat, 97-93, despite 34 points from Derrick Rose. In the games finals seconds, Rose missed two free throws and then a potential game-tying jump shot.
When the Wizards and Bulls met earlier this month, Rose was sidelined by a toe injury. Without Rose and playing their third game in three nights, the Bulls defeated the Wizards, 78-64. In Roses absence, John Lucas III scored 25 points.
The match-up between the Wizards and Bulls is promoted in some circles as a battle between Wall and Rose. Wall and the Wizards instead will be more concerned with showing how much they have improved as a team since their game in Chicago.