ATLANTA – The last time the Washington Wizards visited the Atlanta Hawks, on Nov. 21, they thought they had their first win of the season. They were wrong. Martell Webster’s putback of a missed Kevin Seraphin jumper left his finger tips a fraction of a second too late.
But that was two weeks ago and the Wizards have two wins now, one of them against the defending champion Miami Heat. Shortly before the Wizards and Hawks tipped off at Phillips Arena, coach Randy Wittman talked about the last time his team was here.
Has the team gotten over the last game in this building?
“No question we have. It was one of those learning experiences and I think it’s helped us here recently, being in tight games and having to make plays down the stretch and doing the things it takes to win.”
“I don’t think there’s an effect from that game. It’s fresh in our minds and we know what we have to do tonight. We just played them basically two weeks ago and their shouldn’t be any surprises for us.”
Carryover of the ‘early offense”
“That’s the main thing that we take from what we’ve done these last couple of games and continue to build on it, that we don’t take steps backwards and the ball stops and we start holding it. I think the Miami game showed them all the good things that we did and thats what we gotta continue to build on. We can’t let what we did in the Miami game go to waste.”
How do you control the tempo?
“We gotta take care of the ball. We can’t back down from what we’ve done the last couple of games. Against the number one team in the league we forced some turnovers. Thats going to be key for us. One of the biggest keys for us tonight is we gotta try to get them where we’re playing 5 on 5 in the half court, getting our defense set and rebounding the ball.
“We’re sticking with Chris Singleton.”
How do you make up for the Absence of Trevor Ariza?
“Other guys will have an opportunity. I always tell the guys you never know when your time is going to come. If you’re not in the rotation when it comes, make sure you’re ready. I feel very confident.
“We’re going to miss Trevor’s ability to defend multiple positions and deflections and passing lanes and the things that he brings to us and we’re going to miss that but we have an opportunity for other guys to step up. Martell will get the nod [for Ariza]. We’ll see how that goes.”