PHILADELPHIA – The Wizards are about to play the Philadelphia 76ers for the second time in less than a week. Given how the Wizards squandered a double-digit second-half lead and lost, 109-102, in their previous meeting last Friday, the opportunity for revenge would seem to be an ideal situation to claim the first win of the season.
But veteran forward Al Harrington doesn’t believe that having extra motivation will be enough.
“You can’t say that, because they beat us the last time they played us,” Harrington said of the 76ers. “This would be a good team for us to kind of get things going as a team and start feeling good about ourselves as a unit, but the only way we’re going to be able to do that is we got to play. We’ve been talking, saying we going to do this that and the third but until we physically show it on the floor, it don’t mean nothing.”
Coach Randy Wittman has already made a roster adjustment to snap the Wizards back into shape. With Nene back in uniform after missing the past two games, Wittman has moved him back over to power forward and started Marcin Gortat at center. After allowing Philadelphia to score 74 points in the last meeting, Wittman doesn’t want a repeat.
The Wizards (0-3) are looking to get back on track, but so is Harrington, who has had a rough start to his time in Washington. Through the first three games, Harrington has shot just 3 of 14 from the field – including 1 of 7 from three-point range – and scored just 11 points. “Historically, I don’t start the seasons off well. I’m not really concerned about it. I just need one game and I’ll be fine,” Harrington said. “I got to find a rhythm. Feel like I need a little bit more minutes to find it. And that’s something me and coach will talk about, but I’ll be all right.”
Harrington’s minutes have declined in each of the first three games. “Al is still working, getting himself into condition. Anybody that sits out a year, it’s tough to get back to where your body, No., 1, is where you want it to be and No. 2, your rhythm and playing again on a regular basis,” Wittman said. “He’s got to be patient. He pressed a little bit in Miami. I told Al he brings a lot to the table just by him being there on the floor. It’s not like he has to score X amount of points or make X amount of shots for us to be effective. He’s missed some easy ones that he normally knocks down that he got frustrated with and compounded that with trying to do too much from an offensive standpoint in Miami.”
In the Wizards’ loss to Miami, Harrington went 0 for 6 from the floor and missed all three of his attempts from long distance. He also had one of the more peculiar turnovers when he saved the ball under the Wizards’ basket, tossed it to center court and John Wall and Martell Webster both watched it roll out of bounds.
“My threes, they all rimmed out. That’s a good sign,” Harrington said. “It’s just a matter of them falling and then you know, in the second half, I just came out and just said I wanted to be more aggressive and tried to attack. I got the shots I wanted to get, they just didn’t go in. That’s what I’m going to try to do, until get my rhythm, is just kind of force it a little bit. Obviously, within the confines ofthe team. I’m just one of those players, I feel like I need to see one go in and I’ll start feeling good about myself. That’s all I’m looking for.”
Wittman didn’t sound overly concerned about Harrington’s early struggles. “He just needs to understand who he is. He still creates space on the floor for us because teams, they’re running at him still. That’s what he’s got to realize.”
(TV: Comcast SportsNet. Radio: WJFK-106.7, WFED-1500). Here’s some pregame/in-game reading: