The Washington Wizards were humiliated by the Philadelphia 76ers. After jumping out to a 14 point lead in the first half, the Wizards fell apart and blew an extremely winnable game, falling 109-102 in their home opener.
Following the loss, head coach Randy Wittman took longer than normal to begin his post-game remarks. He didn't even attempt to conceal his frustration and anger with the team.
"Well, you tell me what you thought the problem was. You watched the game. Commitment to f****** playing defense. It's what it is," he said. It's what it boils down to, all right? It's a thing our guys haven't learned and I've got to figure out a way."
He would go on to elaborate:
"You see it coming out of the locker room. You've got to respect the game and your opponent. We came out in the first half and got after it. We created turnovers, held them to 40 percent shooting, and then in the second half, there was absolutely none," he said.
"And I've got to figure it out," he said later. "That's obviously the first question. I've got to figure out how to get these guys to play the right way for 48 minutes, that's what it boils down to."
Wittman blamed the team's current funk on overconfidence in its ability to overwhelm opponents based on talent alone. After coming out firing on all cylinders in the first half, Washington became complacent, failing to maintain an acceptable level of defensive intensity.
"There were some really good things we did in the first half," he said. "Really good things. Things that we're accustomed to doing defensively. And nothing in the second half. And you can see it as a coach, we've got make sure we get these guys going to start the third quarter and I don't like their demeanor coming out of the locker room, everything you get is, 'No, we're OK.' Well we're not OK. We're 0-2. We're not ok. We lose games by the way we come out with our intensity. You can't play this game for 24 minutes. If it was easy to win in this league, everybody would."
Washington's defense was supposed to be its strong suit this year. The team finished fifth in the NBA in points allowed per 100 possessions last season. Even without Emeka Okafor, Washington was expected to field a defense that, at a minimum, would be above average this season. After allowing 113 points to the Pistons in their season opener and 109 to the Sixers, the Wizards clearly aren't performing at that level right now. Wittman blamed the team's lack of guts for its recent struggles.
"Trust me. It's easier to say I'm going to go out there and outscore you 120-118, it's easy to do that and rest upon it. If you want to win defensively, it's hard. It takes guts, all right? The willingness to grind it out and look at me and say 'I need a rest, Coach. I need a rest.' And we're not willing to play that price."
"We're not good enough to outscore a team 118-116," Wittman said later. "We're not good enough. And if we're going to win, I've got to find at least five that have the guts and courage to go out there and lay it on the line defensively every night."
More from Bullets Forever:
- Randy Wittman: 'Commitment to f***ing playing defense. It's what it boils down to'
- Wizards vs. 76ers final score: Washington drops opener in disappointing fashion
- Wizards, 76ers deflect importance of matchups before Friday's game
- Wizards vs. 76ers: Washington falls to lowly 76ers in home opener
- Wizards vs. 76ers preview: Basketball in the capital, oh how we missed you