The Washington Wizards were well on their way to a 92-75 victory over Charlotte on Wednesday night when Coach Randy Wittman, in his first game since Flip Saunders was fired a day earlier, had John Wall report to the scorer’s table.
It was late in the fourth quarter, and backup Shelvin Mack had done just fine filling in as Washington was closing out the win, but Wittman wasn’t taking any chances. Wittman said after the game he also wanted Wall to work on his conditioning in part because the team was going to be more aggressive pushing the ball upcourt.
“I don’t know. I thought I was good condition-wise,” said Wall, who finished with 12 points, six rebounds and four assists but seven turnovers in 26 minutes 16 seconds. “I was tight when I got back in [because] I was sitting so long. I’mjust going with whatever coach wants. You can’t tell a coach, ‘No, I’m not going back in the game.’”
Nick Young also was in the game in the fourth quarter when the outcome was all but certain. He and Wall logged the most minutes on the team, and Young had a game-high 20 points, although he needed 18 shots to get there.
The Bobcats did get within 16 points with 2:53 to play, but Young’s three-pointer to complete the scoring provided Washington with its largest margin of victory this season.
The Wizards bench also provided some valuable minutes in this compressed season that includes an adundance of consecutive games and many stretches with three games in four days.
Guard Jordan Crawford led the reserves with nine points and five assists, and rookie Chris Singleton played 24 minutes with two points, four rebounds and a game-high five steals. In all, the Wizards got 31 points from their bench players.
“Just sticking with us I guess,” Young said of being in the game with the outcome well in hand. “We wanted to be able to make sure to take the game home because when we play anything can happen. You see they came back the second half, so [Wittman] just put us in to put the icing on the cake.”
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