A day after getting slapped with a $20,000 fine for using a bad word during his postgame news conference following the Wizards’ home opening loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, Coach Randy Wittman said he was “embarrassed” by the incident and should’ve expressed his frustration in a different manner.
Wittman was upset after watching the Wizards blow a 14-point second- half lead and claimed that the problem was rooted in a lack of “commitment to [expletive] defense.” He then explained that his players hadn’t made the necessary effort on that end of the floor to win games. While accepting the fine, Wittman still believes his broader point about the Wizards’ defense – which currently ranks 29th in opponent scoring average (108.3) and 30th in opponent field goal percentage (51.2) – was accurate.
“It’s a situation, one I’m not proud of,” Wittman said. “You guys know me. I’m very passionate, okay, about my team, about how we play, the players individually and it’s a situation I’m embarrassed by it, in how it came out. Not the message. The message that I want to portray is the one I wanted to get out, but … the wrong way. Got to do a better job of controlling a situation like that and one, that, hey, it’s on me and you move forward from that. Not one that you’re real proud of.”
The Wizards (0-3) will have a rematch on Wednesday against the 76ers (3-1) and Wittman expects to be the team to be better with regards to protecting the middle. Philadelphia scored 109 points in the win, but 74 were points in the paint.
“If we don’t do better than that, if it’s going to be more than 74, then we’re going to be in trouble,” Wittman said. “That’s going to be the No. 1 factor. Defending off the dribble. They didn’t throw it to the post up guys, either offensive rebounds, fastbreak layups or getting them from penetration. That’s going to be important.”
Philadelphia forward Thaddeus Young scored a game-high 29 points but many of his baskets came from dump offs and rebound putbacks. Sixers center Spencer Hawes did most of his damage from the perimeter. “I think that’s more from a perimeter breakdown right now, off the dribble,” Wittman said, when explaining the Wizards’ problems inside. “A lot of times, when people hear points in the paint, oh, they must be throwing it to Dwight Howard a lot. Or throwing it in the box a lot. And it hasn’t really been that way with our points in the paint.”
Wittman is pleased that the Wizards have a chance to quickly make amends for the loss. “Hopefully the outcome is different. Let’s be blunt here,” he said. “We played them. We’re familiar. We know where they hurt us and where we hurt them. It’s a game that we should go in with a pretty good feel for what we can do.”