In conversation, Washington Wizards coach Randy Wittman is direct and to the point. Its a shame, then, that his talk of a chance for his team to do something special before the NBA All-Star break keeps getting interrupted by bad losses.
Tonight, its the last chance at Verizon Center when the Wizards host the Sacramento Kings in their final game before a five-day layoff for the All-Star Game. Before suffering defeats in Utah and Phoenix, Wittman was encouraged that the Wizards could build off wins in Detroit and Portland, and a competitive loss to the Clippers in Los Angeles.
It was before Fridays loss to the Jazz that Wittman said he thought the Wizards had an opportunity to do something special with a strong finish to their five game road trip and then a good performance at home against the Kings. The road trip finish went horribly wrong punctuated by Mondays 104-88 loss to the Suns.
We didnt share the ball and tried to do everything one on one and a good team like Phoenix is going to take that away from you, Wittman said. Thats all it was. Im not going to put up with that. Thats something we havent been doing and I believe we were up one and go on a spree of the most selfish basketball Ive seen since Ive taken over. Ive got to find the right people to find the right way to play but Im not letting that slip back in.
Thats Wittman, direct and to the point. It was Wittman who talked of breaking bad habits when he took over as head coach in January. Bad habits returned to the Wizards when the Suns closed the third quarter on a 31-6 run after the Wizards had grabbed a 55-54 lead. The Wizards panicked and patience on offense was lost and then so was the game.
The Wizards players know better and they have played better. Maybe the return of the Kings to Verizon Center will lead to a return of Nick Youngs shot. Young set a career high with 43 points in last seasons home game against the Kings. Monday in Phoenix Young only had 6 points and over the last three games of the west coast road trip he was 12 of 43 shooting from the field.
To win the Wizards typically need to rebound well and have Young shoot well. To add to the challenge for Young is a match up with the Kings Tyreke Evans. Last night in a 120-108 loss to Miami, Evans had 21 points and 10 assists. Still Evans could not prevent the Kings from falling to 0-5 on their road trip and veteran John Salmons missed the loss to the Heat with a sore hip.
Youngs history indicates he will find a way to regain his scoring touch. When he does, Young will join fellow guards John Wall and Jordan Crawford as the Wizards most productive performers on offense. Wall is averaging 17.8 points, 8.3 in February and Crawford is averaging 18.5 points and 2.8 assists in his last three games.