Wittman: 'This team is going to win games'

Wittman: 'This team is going to win games'
November 19, 2012, 7:00 pm
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Washington Wizards head coach Randy Wittman (left) talks with Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal (3) against the Boston Celtics in the first half at Verizon Center. The Celtics won 89-86.

(Geoff Burke-US PRESSWIRE)

Randy Wittman is as frustrated as anyone by the Wizards’ horrid 0-8 start. But he has made a conscious effort to stroke his players’ egos instead of cracking the whip.

“You keep trying,” he said before Monday night’s game against the 4-7 Indiana Pacers at Verizon Center. “That’s the best way I can put it. All of a sudden something sticks, the light goes on, you get a win, it feels good and then good things start happening.

“That’s what I believe is going to happen. This team is going to win games. I really believe that. We’ve just been too close all eight games to lose faith.

“That’s what I tell them each day, that I believe, and now you’ve got to believe. That’s the main thing you’ve got to stress. I don’t get to play, but I believe and I’m going to stick with it.”

After getting a strong start from a new starting lineup in Saturday night’s loss to Utah, Wittman went back to that same starting five with A.J. Price and Jordan Crawford in the back court and Jan Vesely, Trevor, Ariza and Emeka Okafor in the front court.

Rookie Bradley Beal and Trevor Booker will come off the bench for the second straight game after starting the Wizards’ first seven games.

“We’re going to try different combinations until it works,” Wittman said. “I’m not going to just sit back and watch. That’s not my nature.”

The Wizards and Pacers are the NBA’s two lowest-scoring teams. The Pacers, paced by David West [14.9 points] and Paul George [14.1 points] are averaging 88 points a game. The Wizards, paced by Crawford [12.4 points] and Beal [10.9 points] are averaging 86.6 points.

“We’ve got to get a good pace to the game,” Wittman said. “They’re struggling to get up and down the floor too right now. They do want to set up in the half court with West and {Roy] Hibbert.

“If we can establish ourselves early like we did against Utah, we have to take advantage of that. Advance the ball up the floor and look to create opportunities in transition rather than waiting.”

One man pushing that pace will be Price, who enjoyed his best game of the season against the Pacers last week with 12 points, 14 assists and no turnovers.

“That’s going to be crucial again,” Wittman said. “He had no turnovers in that game and took the opportunity to be aggressive offensively for us. A.J. only plays one way and I think we’ve seen that since he’s been here.”

Wittman sat out Martell Webster in Saturday night’s loss to Utah but said he’s likely to go back to the 6-foot-7 swingman tonight.

“When you’re 0-8 you’re trying a lot of different things and that’s what I did,” Wittman said of his decision to leave Webster on the bench. “I thought he gave us a huge lift in Dallas in that fourth quarter and I hope to give him an opportunity this next game.”