If it is true that a coach learns the most about his team in the final minutes of a close game, Wizards coach Randy Wittman discovered Saturday night just how much he misses John Wall and Nene.
“I’m searching to find a go-to guy in that situation,” Wittman said after Saturday night’s 89-86 loss to the Boston Celtics, “and we just don’t have that right now.”
Trailing by one point with 2:35 to play, the Wizards had three chances to win the game.
On the first, Cartier Martin had a pass stolen by Paul Pierce
On the second, Kevin Seraphin turned the ball over.
And on the third, Martell Webster hoisted an off-balance 3-pointer that clanged off the rim.
“Listen, a lot of these guys haven’t been put in a position to be in the game at the last second,” Wittman said. “It’s a process of learning.”
His players aren’t buying it, saying they all need to become go-to guys in the absence of their two biggest stars.
“Everybody is that go-to guy,” Webster said. “Jannero [Pargo] came in and made three big buckets. JC [Jordan Crawford] played great. Kevin [Seraphin] played his heart out. I think everybody is capable of knocking down those shots in crunch time.”
Webster got that call Saturday night. The Wizards had possession with 4.5 seconds remaining on the clock and Webster found himself all alone in the far corner. Webster saw an open shot. Wittman thought he had a better option.
“No, that’s not what we wanted,” Wittman said of Webster’s off-balance attempt. “Four-point-five seconds is eternity at the end of the game. You can put the ball on the floor and basically get full court in 4.5 seconds. Sometimes you think you need to get it off fast or we’re not going to get it off and [Kevin] Garnett made a good contest on it.”
A little too much contest in the opinion of Webster.
“I thought I had a good look,” Webster said. “There was a little bit of contact, but that’s a shot I’m very capable of making. I wish I could relive it to tell you the truth, just to be a little stronger and a little more aggressive
“I thought there was some contact [from Garnett], honestly. But I guess there wasn’t. If I had the chance to do that again I think there’d be a different outcome.”
So after two games the Wizards are off to an 0-2 start. But they were far more competitive in Saturday’s loss to the Celtics than they were in Thursday night’s loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
All they needed was a go-to guy when they needed it most.
“This is an opportunity for every one of us,” Pargo said. “It comes down to who wants it. If you want to be the guy then step up and prove it.”