- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Randy Wittman paused, shifted his weight and opened his mouth to speak, but stumbled over his words. It was hard to tell if the Washington Wizards coach was thinking or stalling for time. He was asked a simple question, “Who’s out tonight?” 

Finally, a reporter let him off the hook. “How about who’s in tonight?” Laughter ensued from the coach and the assembled media. Unfortunately, the number of mounting injuries is no joke. The depleted Wizards lost 98-88 to the Brooklyn Nets on Monday at the new Barclays Center, with several starters and bench players ailing.

The injury reports reads as follows: John Wall — stress injury to left patella. Nene — plantar fasciitis in his left foot. Trevor Booker — strained left hamstring. Chris Singleton — right shoulder contusion. Kevin Seraphin — strained right calf.

The Wizards also were without Jannero Pargo for a couple of days during training camp with a rib injury. Emeka Okafor finally made his season debut in Brooklyn after missing all of training camp still recovering from the knee injury that caused him to sit out 39 games last year. He was set to make his debut at Verizon Center on Thursday against New York but came down with food poisoning.

“You can’t do anything,” Wittman said. “We’ve got to keep trying, working, improving with the guys that we have and hope that in due time that they’ll get back in the lineup soon.”

What Wittman is looking for may be the toughest thing to find with his MASH unit of a team — consistency, especially between the players he has starting and those who are coming in off the bench.

“That second unit needs to trust the offense and not try to do everything on their own,” Wittman said. “That’s where we get in trouble.”

The Wizards (1-3) are halfway through their preseason schedule and have games remaining against Toronto, Milwaukee, Miami and San Antonio. They will open the regular season Oct. 30 against Cleveland, the only team they’ve beaten in the preseason.

In these final four games, they’ll also have to try and find chemistry among the players who are still standing and mix in the others as they come back.

“It’s always tough, especially when your teammates go down,” guard-forward Martell Webster said. “But when one door closes, there’s always another door, another opportunity that opens up. Guys are taking advantage of that.”

Webster and rookie Bradley Beal have formed a nice tandem, while Pargo, A.J. Price and Shelvin Mack still are playing point guard by committee. Wittman hasn’t settled on any one of the three as Wall’s primary backup. Wall is the only player who is certain to still be out on opening night.

“We’re trying to just all get together, but the thing we need to understand is that we need to let the game come to us,” Webster said.

“We’ve been doing that a lot better these last two games.”