ORLANDO -- Two issues plagued the Wizards in the preseason that almost derailed them in their regular-season opener with the Magic: Fatigue and turnovers. Against a better team, maybe they wouldn't have won their first game for the first time in six years but John Wall and Bradley Beal have to clean that up and they know it.
On their first two possessions of the game, Beal had two turnovers. Wall had a spate of his own trying to draw contact in the paint, losing the ball and not getting the whistle. In all, they combined for 10 of Washington's 18 turnovers in an 88-87 victory that could've come a lot easier.
"You break momentum," coach Randy Wittman said after his team twice had nine-point leads in the firsts quarter but ended up leading just 31-29. "When you have a chance to go from six to 10 or 12 and we turn it over now they're up two or four points. Momentum swing. We just got to do a better job."
The backcourt wasn't the only problem. Kris Humphries and Nene each had turnovers that were the result of passing up wide-open looks and trying to get closer for a better shot or making a pass late with the shot clock running down. The Wizards led 59-51 because of a 6-0 run to begin the third quarter, but in a 41-second stretch they had three consecutive turnovers and it was trimmed to 60-58.
Out of a timeout, Humphries double dribbled. Then came Nene's shot-clock violation.
"We got a couple times when shots weren't going then all of a sudden we passed up shots. I tell these guys every day, you got an open shot, you got to shoot it.' They have to have faith in themselves. You work too hard to get an open shot then if you turn it down , the next shot you take is going to be worse or it's going to be a turnover."
Wall agreed with Wittman's assessment, calling their play "sloppy" on the offensive end for long stretches.
"We had about seven or eight stepping out of bounds," Wall said. "I think we're going to average around 14, 15 in this offense. ... If we stay between 13 and 15, we're fine. Live turnovers leading to points, that's what hurts the most."
It was stressed at Thursday's practice session, but a team can't really practice not turning the ball over. It's more of a mental thing of risk vs. reward when making certain passes and accepting what the opposing defense is giving up.
“We get out here and we play in practice trying to keep that in our minds. You can’t simulate that. It’s just a mindset," Wittman said. "Usually it’s one of two things: we’re trying to do too much as an individual or we over-dribble. That’s usually where we get ourselves in trouble. We just got to think about it and make a simple play."