HOUSTON -- Despite what has taken place in recent days -- the players-only meeting, a three-game losing streak and more injuries and then the death of coach Randy Wittman's older brother -- the Wizards rallied in a way that has been uncommon this season.
They fought back with a vengeance, erasing a 116-110 deficit with 3:35 left, took a four-point lead and held on two prevail 123-122 Saturday. Wittman, who didn't attend the morning shootaround with the team when he learned the terrible news, wasn't as successful fighting back tears.
"Tough day," said Wittman, who also endured the death of his coaching mentor, Flip Saunders, when he passed away suddenly earlier this season. "But he was here. He watched every game in a La-Z-Boy and he's up in heaven watching it in a La-Z-Boy.
"Tough day but I'm proud of our guys. They fought tooth and nail for 48 minutes. Not every call went our way. Not every play was executed right but they fought and flew around for 48 minutes and came away with a win. I can't be more proud of them and proud of my brother."
The team travels to Oklahoma City on Sunday for a game vs. the Thunder there on Monday. Wittman might not attend, but team officials said that has yet to be determined.
"How emotional he was trying to talk before the game, that kind of triggered us also," said point guard John Wall, with 19 points, 13 assists and eight rebounds. "He came in and said seems like you guys are ready. This was the first time we were ever locked in at a shootaround in a long time. ... Him not being here that was key for us."
Back in the starting lineup as the "stretch" option at power forward, Jared Dudley did his part as well. The one who called the players-only meeting after Thursday's shocking home loss to the Denver Nuggets, he responded with 16 points on just eight shots.
"We talked about that. We wanted to win it for him," Dudley said. "We wanted to win it for us also. We all have siblings. We all know how life is short here. it was definitely emotional for him after the game. I'm glad we were able to get this for him."
The Wizards (21-24) ended a three-game skid but they can start to turn the tied by beating the Thunder who torched them 125-101 earlier this season at Verizon Center.
But one thing appears to be certain that despite all of the issues they've had with injuries, lineups, rotations and Wittman's job security coming under question year after year: The coach has never lost them. The claims of "lost the locker room" often come from outside of D.C. They've just have to figure out how to stop losing games and carry over that same focus to Oklahoma City.