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Report: Randy Wittman in consideration for Pacers job

Report: Randy Wittman in consideration for Pacers job

When the Washington Wizards fired Randy Wittman, they focused on making Scott Brooks their next head coach.

It didn't take long before they named Brooks their new head coach.

When the Indiana Pacers announced Thursday that head coach Frank Vogel's contract would not be extended, a preliminary list of replacements emerged.

Would Wittman make the cut?

He did.

MORE: Wizards have several key positions to fill

All those names are what you'd expect for a full blown search, especially if the goal is to find someone with previous head coaching experience. Wittman served as a head coach over parts of 10 seasons with Cleveland, Minnesota and Washington, where he took over during the 2011-12 season.

He's also an Indiana native and starred for Bobby Knight at Indiana University including the 1981 NCAA Championship team. 

Does this mean Wittman is the right man for the Pacers? Ultimately that's up to team president Larry Bird, but a Vogel for Wittman swap would get panned by the NBA world.

In farness to Wittman, he helped turned the Wizards franchise around. He was on the sideline for playoff series wins in 2014 (Chicago) and 2015 (Toronto). It's possible they reach the Eastern Conference finals in 2015 if John Wall doesn't suffer a fractured hand. 

Expectations were high entering the 2015-16 season, but Washington missed the playoffs and then moved on from Wittman last month. Blame injuries or the roster compisition if you want, but the team never generated sustainable momentum. How Wittman handled the team, the locker room, the strategy also played a factor.

When he took over as interim head coach during the 2011-12 season, Wittman had the worst winning percentage in NBA history. Over his last three seasons in Washington, the Wizards went 131-115.

If Bird wants a new voice, not sure the 56-year-old Wittman is that guy even if by definition he would be new. Vogel is among the more interesting and adaptable NBA coaches. Those are traits not always associated with Wittman. Vogel took Indiana to consecutive Eastern Conference finals during his run and finished with the most wins in franchise history.

It's frankly odd Bird is making this move.

It would be stunning if he then hired Wittman. Then again, who imagined Wittman lasting as long as he did in Washington?

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Otto Porter's status in doubt for Game 6 against Raptors

Otto Porter's status in doubt for Game 6 against Raptors

There appears to be at least some chance the Wizards will be without starting small forward Otto Porter when they host the Toronto Raptors in Game 6 of their first round playoff series on Friday night in Washington.

Porter, 24, continues to deal with a right lower leg strain. The injury is located on the outside of his calf and will require further testing from the Wizards' medical staff to determine his status.

Head coach Scott Brooks addressed the media on Thursday and did not rule out an MRI.

"We don't know as of yet, but he's banged up. So, hopefully we will find out some good news and see how he feels tomorrow," Brooks said.

Porter first suffered the injury on April 10 against the Celtics in the Wizards' penultimate regular season game. He missed the regular season finale, but has appeared in all five games of the Wizards-Raptors series.

Brooks did not make it seem likely that Porter will miss Game 6, but expressed uncertainty.

"Anything is possible," he said. "We hope for the best."

Porter appeared hobbled in Game 5 and has at other times this series as well. After the first two games of the series, Brooks was asked about Porter's health and said that he was "100 percent." It's unclear if Porter suffered a setback in the time between, but clearly that isn't the case anymore.

Porter is averaging just 10.0 points in this series, down from his 14.7 per game season average. Ideally, the Wizards would be getting more than that from their third scoring option.

"We need Otto," Brooks said. "We need Otto to be more of a nine or 10-point scorer for us to win this series."

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Fourth quarter has been an issue for the Wizards in series vs. Raptors

Fourth quarter has been an issue for the Wizards in series vs. Raptors

It was all going so well for the Wizards in Game 5 on Wednesday night until just over four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. That's when their offense went from good enough to win to bad enough to alter a series and put their 2017-18 season on life support.

The Wizards head back to Washington down 3-2 and have only themselves to blame. From the 4:05 mark in the fourth quarter all the way until 16.2 seconds remining in the game, they did not score a single point. Meanwhile, the Raptors kept rolling and finished that stretch on a 14-5 run. 

The Wizards missed 11 of their final 15 shots. They stopped moving the ball and moving off the ball and even some of their open shots clanged off the backboard or the rim.

It was a stunning display of offensive ineptitude from a team that was above average in scoring during the regular season. 

"We just missed some shots," guard Bradley Beal said. "We feel like we got some good ones, especially down the stretch."

The Wizards managed 20 points in the fourth quarter and 15 came in the first 7:55 of the frame. That would put them on pace for a solid quarter. If they maintained that course, they may have won the game.

Instead, the fourth quarter amounted to a disaster and it cost them dearly. Teams that lose Game 5 to break a 2-2 tie have a 17.2 percent chance of winning the series, based on the league's history.

Otto Porter went scoreless and took one shot in the fourth quarter of Game 5. John Wall had two of his seven turnovers and shot 2-for-6.

"I had two crucial turnovers trying to split screens in the fourth quarter," Wall said. "Just bad reads on my part."

Beal shot 1-for-6 from the field and 1-for-4 from three. Kelly Oubre, Jr., who shot just 40.3 percent from the field during the regular season, took six shots in the fourth quarter, tied for most on the team. He made two of them and missed all three of his threes.

The Wizards had six of their 18 giveaways in the fourth. Though they outrebounded the Raptors 50-35 for the game, they were outdone 15-12 in the frame.

The Wizards' scoreless drought of three minutes and 49 seconds in the fourth quarter was perhaps foreshadowed by some problems with their offense early in the game. There were plenty of stretches characterized by bad shots, turnovers and a lack of passing.

The Wizards' 21 assists in Game 5 were their fewest in the playoffs so far.

"We need more ball movement," Beal said. "We need more player movement. We were way too stagnant."

The fourth quarter has been an issue all series. Only once, in Game 2, did they outscore the Raptors in the final frame. 

The Wizards rank 14th out of 16 playoff teams in fourth quarter points (23.4/g) and dead-last with a 40.4 field goal percentage and 28.1 three point percentage.

This is a bit of a carryover from the regular season. Only five teams shot worse than the Wizards in the fourth quarter (43.7%) and only five teams allowed more points (26.5) to their opponents.

Washington has had issues closing games all year and throughout this series. Wednesday night was an extreme example and it has them just one loss away from elimination.

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MORE FROM WIZARDS-RAPTORS SERIES:

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