Randy Wittman had seen enough, again.
“I don’t want us dribbling, dribbling, dribbling, dribbling. I want movement!” the Wizards’ coach yelled at his team. It was Sunday afternoon and the Wizards were finishing up a workout session on Verizon Center practice court. The final workout for the day was a white team vs. blue team scrimmage.
After the first couple of possessions, Wittman let out his frustrations.
“We just worked on this for an hour and a half and then comes game time and we don’t do it!” he yelled again. This time, his team heard him loud and clear. For the rest of the scrimmage, the players cut out the excessive dribbling, made quick, sharp passes and kept the offense flowing. A hint of a smile crossed Wittman’s face.
The challenge now will be to see if the Wizards can keep it up Tuesday when they face the defending-champion Miami Heat (12-3).
After practice, Wittman said the team addressed the problems that have been causing their offensive stagnation, a major contributing factor in the Wizards’ 1-13 start.
“We’ve changed some things in what we’re trying to do,” Wittman said. “We’re not getting nearly enough scoring opportunities in the open break.”
Point guard A.J. Price will be in charge of keeping the ball moving from the opening tip. Price seems to have solidified his spot in Wittman’s ever-changing starting lineup, but he says it makes no difference to him whether he starts or comes off the bench — he knows what his role is.
“That’s the number one thing for me right now, keeping the offense moving,” Price said. “Coming into the season it was about not turning it over, getting my shots, getting comfortable with the offense. Now we need to run it with some efficiency and a sense of desperation almost.”
Price is averaging 8.9 points, 5.2 assists and 1.6 turnovers in about 30 minutes per game this season. His key to keeping the ball moving is to pick up the pace.
“We have to try to score fast,” Price said. “When we get the ball up court and it moves, the defense is not set. When you hold the ball … guys are just too good at this level [for us] to do that.”
Price is expected to continue in the starting role until John Wall returns, but the timetable for that becomes more vague by the day.
“Until the doctor says he’s ready to go full bore, I don’t know what to tell you guys,” Wittman said.
Wall is sidelined with a stress injury to his left knee and was originally expected to miss the first month of the season.
“I’m serious. I’m not taking you guys down the road here,” Wittman joked. “I tell my mom I don’t know. She asks me every day too, ‘When’s John coming back?’ I tell her, ‘I don’t know mom.’”
• Carla Peay can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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