John Wall's Top 5 plays of the week 1-20
It's not often that a losing road trip has the smell of success. Granted, the Wizards play professional sports, so nobody is throwing a parade for a 2-3 stretch, especially when one or two of the losing results could have swung the other way.
However, combined with three straight victories before the team headed west, it's quite apparent Washington (9-31) is on an upswing heading into back-to-back home games.
Perhaps that is why Randy Wittman took issue with a question about needed next steps so the team becomes more than just competitive on a nightly basis.
“We don’t need to change anything,” the Wizards coach said before the team's shootaround at the Verizon Center on Friday morning. “We’re playing with confidence at a high level. We’ve just got to make sure we maintain that coming back off a West Coast swing, it’s important that we continue to do the things that we’ve done well.”
Washington hosts Minnesota on Friday followed by a meeting against Chicago on Saturday.
Sticking with the no changes theme, Wittman does not anticipate any regarding John Wall's minutes. Other than receiving 31 minutes against the Clippers, Wall played 26-27 minutes in the other road games. The third-year point guard has yet to start since returning to the active roster on Jan. 12.
“Each day I think he gets better,” Wittman said. “He’s still a work in progress, and the minutes will stay the same as they have.”
Wittman also said he would continue playing Bradley Beal per normal. The rookie guard took a nasty fall on Jan. 18 in the win at Denver and his shooting percentage dipped as the trip continued.
"It's sore from the fall, but nothing that will hinder him as we move forward, hopefully," Wittman said.
Along with Wall, Trevor Booker is ramping up his game after a lengthy injury absence. After sitting out the road opener at Sacramento, the energy-forward averaged 16 minutes and grabbed at least seven rebounds in three of the next four games.
Booker also concurred that despite the losing road trip the team is in a happier place these days.
“We know we’re improving so we’re pretty confident right now,” Booker said.
The Timberwolves (17-22) are not in a happy place these days. Minnesota has lost seven of eight games and remains without head coach Rick Adelman and several key players, including Kevin Love (fractured right hand) and Nikola Pekovic (thigh), the Timberwolves scoring and rebounding leaders. Alexey Shved (sprained left ankle) also remains sidelined.
Ricky Rubio is playing but more than 28 minutes per game while recovering from knee surgery. Minnesota's starting point guard and interim coach Terry Porter had a clear the air session on Friday after Rubio voiced displeasure over not playing during the fourth quarter in Wednesday's loss to Brooklyn.
Porter has served as the Wolves' acting head coach since Jan. 5 while Adelman is with his wife, Mary Kay, who has been hospitalized with an undisclosed illness.