Instead of being proud of his team from battling back from a nine-point deficit with 1:06 remaining with a chance to finally beat the Detroit Pistons, Wizards coach Randy Wittman was annoyed with the effort.
Trevor Ariza’s shot from the corner fell short as the buzzer sounded and the Wizards lost to the Pistons for the fourth time this season, 96-95, but Wittman took shots at his team for being more concerned about their individual minutes than winning.
He called them out, and that seemed to include star point guard John Wall, though he didn't by name. Last week, the Wizards traded Jordan Crawford to the Boston Celtics because he complained about playing time and became a locker room distraction.
"Tonight we got what we deserved. We didn't deserve to win that game. We got guys that haven't been in the rotation complaining," Wittman said. "The older guys trying to help and they won't listen. That just tells me I'm just worried about myself, I'm not worried about winning this game. You have a tough game, it's my job to coach you. Tonight for whatever reason -- it's bizarre to me -- they didn't want to be coached. It was more about playing time, shots rather than what are we doing as a team and how am I playing while I'm out there."
Wittman put Wall on the bench for 13 minutes of the first half and went without him for most of the fourth quarter. Wall tied his season high with seven turnovers for the game and appeared despondent on the bench.
Wall shot 3-for-9, had just four assists, one steal and one rebound in 24 minutes of action. Wall only played 24 minutes in Monday’s 90-84 win at the Toronto Raptors. In his last five games, Wall is 16-for-54 shooting, or 29.6%.
The Wizards trailed 39-29 in the second quarter, but it was mostly a reserve unit led by backup point guard A.J. Price that brought them back to take a 55-51 lead at the half. On the first possession of the third quarter, however, the Wizards' fortunes flipped as Wall turned over the ball and the Pistons outscored them 31-13.
The Wizards had to battle from behind in the first quarter, in part, because of Wall’s turnovers. He had four.
"It wasn't it at all," Wall said of the rough start making it difficult for him to recover. "They were great passes it was just some my teammates didn't catch them, some of them got tipped away. Just got to deal with it."
Pistons point guard Jose Calderon was Wall's opposite in more ways than one. He had only six points on 2-for-6 shooting but dished out 18 assists and had only two turnovers.
Rookie Bradley Beal played the most minutes with 43 for Washington. He scored 16 points on 8-for-16 shooting.
"John’s fine. He has his highs and lows but that’s just his passion and competitiveness," Beal said. "He’s a great point guard. I don’t care what anybody says. He’s going to be fine, regardless."
Wittman reiterated who is the boss. The Wizards' three-game winning streak came to an end and they lost to the Pistons for the fourth time in four tries this season.
"It's my job to decide who is deserving of playing out there and that's what I'll continue to do," he said. "If you can't handle that and you don't agree with it, that's what you get -- a game like tonight."