NEW ORLEANS — Randy Wittman is pretty grounded. At least, that's how he describes himself.
With the Wizards heading into a grueling stretch where they'll play four games in five nights two weeks in a row, every day could provide more discouragement for Washington's coach.
Wittman is missing more than half his starting lineup — point guard John Wall (stress injury to his left knee), power forward Trevor Booker (right knee strain) and small forward Trevor Ariza (left calf strain). His normal starting center, Nene, is coming off the bench and playing hurt (plantar fasciitis in his left foot), and his backup point guard, A.J. Price went down Saturday in a 101-97 loss to Golden State (fractured right hand, out four to six weeks).
After Tuesday night's game at New Orleans, the Wizards will face the Rockets in Houston on Wednesday. Wittman put the team's struggles in perspective.
"This is a game," Wittman said. "There's a lot going on out there in the real world that kind of brings you back to reality. A lot of things that have happened in the sports world, to Kevin McHale losing his daughter to the Kansas City [Chiefs] situation and the Dallas [Cowboys] situation. There's a lot of things that are a lot more important than winning and losing a game, although, yeah, that's our livelihood."
Wittman is well acquainted with McHale from their days with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Wittman was an assistant coach under Flip Saunders, and McHale was the general manager.
McHale's daughter, Alexandra, died of complications from lupus Nov. 24 at age 23. McHale, now the coach of the Rockets, returned to the bench Saturday after a taking a bereavement absence.
"Listen," Wittman continued, "you get up every morning, you try ... all I do is try to prepare these guys and put them in positions that I can best utilize them. I'll continue to do that. That's my job. That's what keeps me going. This is my job."
Despite the arduous schedule, the Wizards hope to pick up a few wins these next two weeks since they will be playing teams that are struggling as well. Only two of the next seven opponents — they play Detroit twice — have winning records, Miami and Atlanta.
Although the team worked out two point guards Sunday, Ben Uzoh and Blake Ahearn, Wittman says Washington has no plans to sign anyone. He's comfortable letting Jordan Crawford and Shaun Livingston run the team until Wall and Price can return.
During training camp, Crawford and shooting guard Bradley Beal played well together, and Livingston, a taller point guard at 6-foot-7, gives Wittman some options to use a three-guard set with Livingston guarding the small forward spot.
Through 17 games, Wittman employed five different starting lineups. With Price out, Tuesday against the Hornets made it lineup No. 6. Through it all, Wittman keeps a positive outlook.
"I'm a pretty stubborn-willed guy," Wittman said. "I don't give in to injuries and circumstances, 2-15 [Washington's record heading into Tuesday), losing close games. My job is try to push the right button to get some more wins."