OAKLAND, Calif. – Trevor Ariza was in a Golden State of mind before the Washington Wizards arrived in his home state. After the Wizards lost to the Utah Jazz on Saturday night, Ariza slipped on a UCLA sweatshirt and a pair of black Jordans trimmed in UCLA blue and gold.
Ariza was arguably the most excited that the Wizards will be in California through Thursday.
“Aw, man. It’s beautiful. It’s great,” Ariza said after Monday’s practice at Oracle Arena. “Anytime I’m in California, I feel like I’m at home. I’m all smiles.”
The Wizards will take on the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers on back-to-back days Tuesday and Wednesday, but Ariza wasn’t too upset that the team wasn’t going to spend too much time in his home town.
“Of course, I would like to spend more time there, but we’ve got a job to do. We’re here for work,” Ariza said. “Try to take care of business here first and when we get down there.”
The Wizards will have a difficult task taking care of business in both places, because the Warriors and Clippers both defeated them by 16 points in earlier matchups this season at Verizon Center.
Golden State romped over the Wizards, 112-96, on Jan. 5, staging a 33-5 run and building a 25-point lead in the third quarter that suggested a greater separation in the quality of the teams than their records suggest. The Wizards know that they won’t be able to play the same way and expect a different result.
“We’re going to make some adjustments. I ain’t going to tell you what they are,” Coach Randy Wittman said. “We got to play better. We’re going to have to play our ‘A game.’ That’s what it boils down to. On the road at their place. We play our ‘A game,’ we can win. We can’t come in and play with a’ C game.’ ”
The Wizards have only reached 110 points three times this season, while Golden State, which ranks 10th in the league in scoring at 104 points per game, has topped that number 16 times. So engaging in a shootout might not be the best approach with the Warriors.
But after his team appeared to stuck “in mud” in a 104-101 loss to the Jazz, Wittman hopes that the Wizards’ success against the up-tempo Phoenix Suns on the first game of the trip Friday will aid them against the high-scoring Warriors.
“It should help us, because I thought the first quarter [in Utah] was one of the worst-paced quarters we’ve had in a while and I think you fall into a little, Utah wanting to play that way,” Wittman said. ” Phoenix we had a good pace, because they have a good pace, it shouldn’t hurt us any.”
John Wall believes the Wizards can thrive at a fast-paced game but they have to stay composed and in control in the process.
“We got a good opportunity to push and definitely get shots in transition and you want to take the opportunities but you really don’t want to take bad shots and have a lot of turnovers against this team. Because that’s when they get to the three-point line, they run to the three-point line, they run for lobs and they just spread you out,” he said. “We got to do a better job. We competed, we showed we could play with these guys, but they’re a tough team and in the third quarter, they ran away from us.
“We just have to do a good job of contesting and playing defense and live with what you do,” he said. “If you’re playing the right way and playing hard and you lose a tough game or win a tough game, you can deal with it. But if you’re not playing the right way and you lose, that’s more frustrating.”