Randy Wittman calls out Wizards for ‘selfish play’ in loss to Toronto

January 4, 2014

You think we’re going to win like this? (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Wizards Coach Randy Wittman scanned the box score at his news conference after the Wizards’ 101-88 loss to the Toronto Raptors on Friday. Wittman sighed, then explained that he was “shocked” and “disappointed” with his team’s listless performance, adding that some “selfish play” had crept in and contributed to an embarrassing defeat that was much more lopsided than the final score would suggest.

“We’ve proven over the last couple of years you can’t play that way,” Wittman said, shaking his head. “And we’re getting concerned with, ‘Why am I coming out?  How many minutes am I getting? How many shots am I getting?’ rather than, ‘What is the team doing?’ and we didn’t do that tonight and that is disappointing because we’re not good enough to do it that way. … We have to come back together. It is not about ‘me’ it’s about ‘us’ and it has to be focused on us and it was focused on individuals rather than the team.”

When told of Wittman’s comments about selfish play, John Wall disagreed and credited Toronto with disrupting the offense and creating poor floor spacing.

“I don’t think so. I think we try and play the right way. I just give them a lot of credit, they took away things from us and then we didn’t make a lot of shots,” Wall said. “They just outplayed us. They played with more sense of urgency. They played with more aggressiveness, they were pounding us on the glass and making open shots and we didn’t stick to our defensive concepts and we just give them a lot of credit for what they did and the game plan they had against us.”

The Wizards had just 19 assists against the Raptors, with six coming in the fourth quarter after the game was essentially out of reach. Washington (14-16) is 4-14 this season when it fails to have at least 24 assists in a game, and has failed to reach 20 in its past three losses to Minnesota, Dallas and Toronto.

In their past two wins against Detroit, the Wizards combined for 59 assists, including a season-high 34 assist game in a 106-82 win at Verizon Center – their only victory in their past six home games. They have had 54 total assists in the past three defeats. In the loss to Dallas, the Wizards moved the ball but couldn’t hit shots. Against Toronto, the Wizards often moved the ball to the other team as they had 18 turnovers, which led to 25 points for the Raptors.

Trevor Booker and Bradley Beal agreed with Wittman that there were a few instances in which players attempted to go off on their own, but Beal felt “selfish” could’ve meant more than not sharing.

“I guess what he was talking about was body language and attitude, more so than guys not passing the ball, at least that’s what I interpreted they were saying,” Beal said. “I mean you can sense it here and there, but I still think we had a chance to win the game regardless of what our attitude was.  He’s right, that’s definitely something we have to stay away from and hopefully moving forward we can eliminate that.  Like he said, we lost a couple of games that were winnable.  We got to get back on the right track.”

Wittman said he will figure out a way to remind his players that will only win by playing the right way, and together.

“Listen, it’s like I’ve said the last year and a half to two years, it’s been proven that way,” Wittman said. “We don’t have one guy who can carry this team.  We don’t have it. So we need the body of work each and every night. That body of work changes.  Those numbers change who that guy is.  We’ve seen that when we’ve been playing good.  Bradley Beal can be it, Martell Webster can and Trevor Ariza can.  You can’t dictate the game yourself and make it play out the way you are.  You’ve got to let the game dictate that and then be willing to do that.  They’re going to take me away tonight? You’re going to be the bonus baby tonight.  We’re going to feed you tonight.  We’ve got to do that and we didn’t have that.”

After scoring just 11 points on 4-of-15 shooting to end his streak of 20-point games at eight, Wall didn’t dispute Wittman on the notion that the Wizards don’t have one dominant scorer to carry the team every night.

“Anybody can get hot and start scoring at any time on this team,” Wall said. “We’re a team where we’re better when there’s five to six guys in double figures and you might have a different leading scorer every night and we know that’s the way we need to play and there’s nothing wrong with that. We know guys can make big shots and make big plays, but we don’t have one guy that we can put our back on and say, ‘Do that for a whole game.’”

Nene suggested that the Wizards need to start doing more homework and film study to get back to the style of play that leads to success. He added that Toronto played harder, so the Wizards got what they deserved.

“This game is simple and it is very fair sometimes,” he said.

Michael Lee is the national basketball writer for The Washington Post.
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