The Washington Times - March 2, 2011, 03:02PM

Welcome to Wizards Watch, a new blog dedicated to bringing you news and information about the Washington Wizards.

Tonight the Wizards welcome in the Golden State Warriors, the first of two meetings between the two teams. The Warriors will be on a second night of a back-to-back, having lost 109-100 last night to the Indiana Pacers.


The Wizards will be without head coach Flip Saunders tonight. He is in Cleveland with his mother Kay, 90, who is in poor health. Stepping in for Saunders tonight will be lead assistant coach Randy Wittman, who is looking for a focused team effort against the 26-33 Warriors.

“We have to really play hard, we have to play competitive. In games against Miami, Dallas, I didn’t think we showed that [nor] in our last game. That’s got to be a consistency that we play with effort and desire and make that a staple for these last 23 games,” Whitman said.

Leading the way for the Warriors will be a potent backcourt combination of Monta Ellis, who is averaging just under 25 points per game (24.7) and Stephen Curry, who averages 18.8 points per game.

“[The Warriors] score points. We’re going to have to try and do different things with those two guys, Monta [Ellis] and Stephen Curry. Dorell Wright is having a career year. They shoot the ball extremely well and they’ve got versatile bigs in David Lee and [Andris] Biedrins. So it’s going be to a task for us,” Wittman said.

The Wizards (15-44) are coming off of a bad loss to the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday night, falling 105-77 in a contest where the team’s effort and energy was no match for the visitors from the Windy City.

John Wall, who was just selected as the Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for the second straight month, will have a tough challenge guarding Curry, winner of the Skills Challenge during All-Star weekend in Los Angeles. His most recent challenge was guarding the Bulls’ MVP candidate, Derrick Rose.

Wall scored nine points and had 10 assists against the Bulls, below his points average of 15.4, which is second among rookies, and one over his average assist total, 9.0, which leads all rookies.

The Warriors average 102.7 points per game, so if the Wizards can keep pace, it could be a shootout.

“We’re going to have to try and control tempo. We have to score the ball also. We have to be efficient at our offense because they’re going to put some points up and we have to have the ability to do the same,” Wittman said.

“They’ve got guys that can score, Monta and Steph. It’s got to be a team focus tonight. Different guys are going to have the responsibility of guarding them, so it’s not really one guy that we have to really focus on, more than just making sure that we have five guys on the floor playing with heart and desire.”