John Wall has had a huge impact in his first five games since making his debut, but Coach Randy Wittman said he intends to keep him in a reserve role through at least the remainder of this five-game road trip, which concludes on Wednesday in Salt Lake City.
“We’re going to continue on with this path right now,” Wittman said, before the Wizards took on Portland at Rose Garden. “As we can start moving the minutes up, then that will change. But right now, take these next two games, we’re staying with the minute plateau that we have for him.”
Since Wall returned, the Wizards have been scoring at a higher clip, averaging 101.2 points in those five games. But Wittman has been most impressed by the improved assist numbers of his team. The Wizards have averaged 24.2 assists.
“I just think we’ve gotten into a flow offensively, we’re really moving, not only the ball, but our bodies. We’re making shots. At times early in the year, we struggled to shoot,” Wittman said. “I think our guys are playing at a pretty high confidence shooting the ball, but I think with the penetration that John brings, creates some of those opportunities too, but you still have got to knock them down. That’s kind of what’s transpired.”
Wall’s presence has also made a difference because of his ability to create easier shots for his teammates. “We’ve been in position where we’re shooting the ball pretty good. Obviously your assists will move that way. With what he does for us, the pace of the game changes with how he plays. We get more possessions; we get more things in transition. We get more open looks without having to come down and play five-on-five each possession on the floor. I think that’s the main thing, the difference with John coming back.”
The Wizards (8-30) will try to sweep the season series against Portland and improve to 2-2 on this road trip on Monday at Rose Garden. The Trail Blazers were the first team to lose to Washington this season.
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Tipoff: 10 p.m.
TV: Comcast SportsNet
Radio: 106.7 (WJFK FM)