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Chris Singleton fighting to crack Wizards’ rotation

Second-year forward has had up-and-down start to season

- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 8, 2012

Two games into the 2012-13 season, Chris Singleton wasn't sure what to think. In the Washington Wizards' opening game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Singleton played 17 minutes and had a pedestrian outing — four points, four rebounds and two assists.

In the home opener against Boston, Singleton got off the bench for all of 18 seconds and had a row of zeroes in the box score.

Game 3 was a different story. The 6-foot-9 second-year forward had the kind of eye-opening performance that just might have earned him a spot in coach Randy Wittman's rotation. In the rematch against Boston at TD Garden on Wednesday, Singleton connected on his first five shots, scored 14 points, added five rebounds, two assists and three steals in just under 25 minutes.

"It's fine. I am a professional," Singleton said of his sporadic playing time. "I know that I've got to keep working and my time will come. That's it."

Three games into the season, Wittman sounds committed to sticking with his current starting lineup up of A.J. Price (point guard), Bradley Beal (shooting guard), Trevor Ariza (small forward), Trevor Booker (power forward) and Emeka Okafor (center). But with Okafor and Ariza not offering much in the way of scoring, the offensive firepower is coming from the bench.

Shooting guard Jordan Crawford led the team in the home opener with 21 points, but suffered a sprained left ankle in the fourth quarter, and he was limited against the Celtics in Boston, finishing with two points, two rebounds and two assists.

Kevin Seraphin is playing like an All-Star, but as teams begin to take notice of the 6-foot-10 third-year center, he'll start to draw double teams, as he did Wednesday, as teams look to shut down the team's best offensive weapon so far.

With point guard John Wall and center Nene still out with injuries, the opportunity is there for other players to step up and earn some serious minutes. The Wizards have their first back-to-back of the season coming up — at home against the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday, and on the road against the Indiana Pacers on Saturday.

"This isn't about individuals, it's about guys learning how to play," Wittman said. "Chris came in great off the bench."

Although the Wizards lost to the Celtics in overtime 100-94, dropping to 0-3, Singleton saw several positives the players can take away from the game.

"We're fighting, we're in games," Singleton said. "This was one of the top teams the past five [years] and that's good for us just to be in the games. We just got to keep going and go to the next level."

But the Wizards have to do more than hope for a few breakout offensive performances in order to get a few games in the win column. As Wittman continues to preach, it's about execution, taking care of the ball and consistency.

Singleton is confident that the lessons the team is learning in these close losses will lead to progress, and ultimately, to wins.

"Even though John and Nene are out, we still got the pieces here," Singleton said. "I feel like the East is so wide open for everybody right now. We've just got to catch a wave and just ride it."

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