Randy Wittman was joking, but it was hard to find anyone willing to laugh.
Following his team’s ninth straight loss, a 98-89 setback to the Indiana Pacers in front of a sparse crowd of 14,426 at Verizon Center, the Wizards coach wondered what it would take for him to find someone to lead his team to its first victory of the season.
“I’m looking down the whole roster,” he said, “and if I had a cell phone I’d be calling the waiver wire trying to find another body. I mean, I’m just searching right now -- searching for people to give me consistency.”
For the second straight game Wittman went with a starting five of A.J. Price, Jordan Crawford, Trevor Ariza, Jan Vesely and Emeka Okafor. But that unit managed just 31 points on 8-for-37 shooting and was outscored by a seven-man bench that combined for 58 points, led by Bradley Beal’s 18 points.
“I don’t know who to start, who to play, who not to play,” Wittman said. “It’s the confusion of different guys every game. We have no consistency of play in our group.”
Three of the Wizards’ bench players – Beal [29:53], Kevin Seraphin [25:21] and Shaun Livingston [24:20] played more minutes than all five of the Wizards’ starters, who trailed 17-6 before Wittman brought in reinforcements.
“It’s just so inconsistent top to bottom,” he said. “I’d love to have an eight or nine-man rotation. That’s my dream. And I’m playing 12 and 13 [players] every night. You can’t do that in an NBA game. You have to develop a [starting] group and a group that comes in. I’m having a tough time doing that.”
Perhaps the biggest problem for the Wizards this season has been their shot selection. They own the NBA’s worst shooting percentage at 40.1 percent and on Monday they shot just 35.6 percent. The Pacers, who entered the game with the NBA’s second-worst shooting percentage [40.5 percent], shot 48.6 percent against the Wiz.
“We were turning down shots to take worse shots,” Wittman said. “I know somebody in here is going to ask me, ‘Why do they do that?’ I don’t know. I don’t know.”
Wittman says his players’ overall lack of confidence is resulting in hesitation on the floor and that has translated into poor shots, bad turnovers and a sputtering offense.
“When you’re hesitant in your thinking and your actions, you’re probably not going to make good decisions,” Wittman said.
The Wizards’ next chance to earn their first win comes Wednesday night in Atlanta against the 5-4 Hawks. Wittman said he still believes in his team, no matter what others may think.
“These guys can win,” he said. “I don’t have any doubts of it. I come in here every day thinking this is the night. I feel good. I might be dumb, but I believe in them. I really do.”