MILWAUKEE – The Wizards will try to win three games in a row for the first time this season as they take on the struggling Milwaukee Bucks – losers of nine straight – at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Washington (6-8) has won four of its past five games and entered Wednesday’s action tied for the sixth best record in the Eastern Conference.
“I think they believe in themselves,” Coach Randy Wittman said of his team. “It’s a long season. You are going to have ups and downs in a season. How you ride that out and how…you want to keep the peaks and valleys pretty consistent. You don’t want to get too low and stay down there, and you want to stay as high as you can. You know it’s going to fluctuate, and you have to be able to combat that and be consistent and have a plan.”
With Bradley Beal out for at least two weeks, Wittman hopes that he found a unit that worked with Martell Webster and Trevor Ariza serving as interchangeable wings. Though Garrett Temple played shooting guard with Beal out last season, Wittman said he intends to stick with Ariza and Webster as his starters. “As long as we continue to play the way we’re playing, we’ll continue to do those things,” he said.
Ariza, back after missing the previous five games with a strained right hamstring, scored 13 points and Webster scored 20 points and made four three-pointers in the third quarter of the Wizards’ 116-111 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.
“I think we responded the way we are supposed to,” Ariza said. “Martell came in, Martell has been playing well. Bradley is averaging around 20 or whatever it is and Martell picked that up. We just got to keep finding ways to fill in for what Bradley does.”
Webster added that the team will have success without Beal “by moving the ball. Brad’s a playmaker. He’s a slasher, he’s a great ball-handler, he can create shots for himself off the dribble. Me and Trevor, that’s not our forte. We can do it, but that’s our primary mindset. So moving the ball and then taking the open jump shot is how we’re going to be able to pick that slack up.”
John Wall has helped foster some of that ball movement by playing some of the best basketball of his career in the past two weeks. He has scored 30 points in three straight games, but he has also averaged eight assists in wins over New York and the Lakers.
“He’s making good decisions. From a shot selection standpoint, from a facilitator standpoint, his assist to turnover ratio is very high, and when he plays like that he is difficult to guard,” Wittman said. “I think that has been the main thing, he is taking care of the ball and he is making great decisions with the ball whether it is taking his shot of getting the ball moved to other guys. He is playing at a high level right now.”
(TV: Comcast SportsNet. Radio: WJFK-106.7, WFED-1500). Here’s some pregame/in-game reading: