OKLAHOMA CITY -- Don Newman is in a difficult position, having to take over the head coaching duties for the Wizards while Randy Wittman is on leave for two games because of the death of his older brother. He has to find a way to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder, a team that routed them by 24 points earlier this season, on their home floor.
"The thing I'm thinking about is coming out here and doing what we want to do. We want to fly around with our defense," Newman said. "The offense, we want to move the ball and get the best shots we can."
When the Thunder (36-13) toyed with the Wizards (21-24) on Nov. 10, they didn't even need Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook to be at a peak level. They combined to shoot 11 of 25. Durant pulled a muscle and didn't even play in the second half. Westbrook had a triple-double (22-11-11) in just 28 minutes.
The hammer was dropped by the role players like Dion Waiters (25 points) and Serge Ibaka (23 points). Now they're playing this game at Chesapeake Energy Arena, where they're 22-5.
"They shoot the ball and when they miss they go get it," Newman said. "I feel our guys are up to the test. They understand we got to get back. We got to go at them."
That's what the Wizards did in Saturday's comeback 123-122 win at the Houston Rockets. They trailed by six points late but overcame 40 points from James Harden and a spirited crowd at Toyota Center. That came after a players-only meeting called by Jared Dudley on Thursday.
"When you're on the road and you get a win it's always good. That feeds it. I think our guys have fed on that," Newman said. "They're feeling good about themselves and they should."
That loss to the Thunder dropped the Wizards to 3-4, the first time they dipped below .500. They've had trouble getting back above it ever since.
"You can't look back at that. You got to understand it. Now you have another chance at it," Newman said. "I think we're going to do well."
A win would make the Wizards 1-1 vs. the Thunder, Memphis Grizzlies, San Antonio Spurs, Dallas Mavericks and Rockets.