Wizards coach Randy Wittman has a mantra - it’s all about the Wizards; the opponent is irrelevant. Asked about facing the New York Knick on Wednesday night at Verizon Center with both Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire out of the lineup, Wittman just shrugged, and gave his now familiar answer.
“That don’t matter. Again, we’re focusing on us, our play. It doesn’t matter who we’re playing – Carmelo, Amar’e, here or not here, we can’t think like that. We’re not to that stage of a team to be able to do that.”
“It’s an opportunity that presents itself again, and we’ve got to come out and earn it. It’s going to be a tough game.”
Anthony is expected to miss one to two weeks with a groin injury, and Stoudemire is not with the team due to the death of his brother. Hazell Stoudemire, 35, was killed when his SUV collided with a trailer early Monday morning in Florida. Amar’e Stoudemire has left the team for an undetermined length of time.
But other than admitting that all games are tough games, and an opportunity for a win, Wittman doesn’t like to talk about the opponents too much. He doesn’t want his young players to get caught up in who they play; he just wants them to play the right way.
After blowing an 18-point lead against the Raptors on Monday, but managing to pull off an overtime win, Wittman wants the team to look at the positives.
“It wound up being a tough game, but it was a positive, pulling it out. That’s something we’re putting in our bank and learning from.”
The Wizards (5-20) will face a reeling Knicks (10-15) team that was expected to be a serious playoff contender, but injuries, tragedy, and internal discord that has coach Mike D’Antoni on the hot seat, they’re a vulnerable opponent right now.
“Obviously, it would mean a lot [to get back to back wins],” Wittman said.
“Wins will mean a lot, whether they’re back to back or not. We’d like to win all 66 of them, but we’re not going to do that.”
“But we have to understand why we played the way we did last night,” Wittman said of the Wizards ability to close out the game against the Raptors, something they’ve had trouble with in the past.
“It just didn’t happen, it wasn’t one of those magical nights. We made it happen, and John [Wall] started it with his energy level.”
“You almost had to jump on that boat, or you were going to get left behind.”