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Wittman searches for solutions to what ails the Wizards

The Wizards' three game losing streak has brought several issues to the forefront, but Randy Wittman believes the problem, and the solution, starts with him.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

John Wall had just the kind of look Randy Wittman wanted. Down by three with 22 seconds left, the Wizards had an opportunity with a quick bucket to cut the lead to one with plenty of time left, and give themselves one more chance to tie or win the game with their next possession. Wall faked a handoff to Bradley Beal, scurrying the Charlotte defenders worried about a game tying three, and attacked the basket against Charlotte forward Cody Zeller. Wall gave a little hesitation, freeing himself for an open look near the basket that went long and fell into Hornet hands allowing Charlotte to escape with a 92-88 victory.As so much that happened on this night, the Wizards just didn't find the mark in losing their fifth game in their last seven.

The Wizards recent struggles can be attributed to a number of causes. Rasual Butler has come down to earth, and hasn't been the reliable three point shooter the Wizards so desperately need. Marcin Gortat hasn't been his self, metaphorically invisible in the Wizards offense and literally invisible in Randy Wittman's late game rotations. Andre Miller has fallen off to the point that Garrett Temple is getting his minutes, and John wall is suffering from a plethora of physical maladies while trying to carry this team offensively.

What were the problems on this particular night? Ask Randy Wittman, and he focuses on what he sees as the team's lack of energy and focus recently. "We don't play hard anymore," he said. "That falls on me. I'll take that. We point fingers and until we all get back on the same page and come out and play hard for 48 minutes, and look at ourselves in the mirror and say ‘What can I do more?' rather than point our finger and say ‘It's not me,' that's where we are at."

The Wizards players - as they are tend to do - came out and sang from the same hymnal as their head coach, citing the teams lack of energy and focus. "I don't think we started the game with a lot of energy," John Wall said at the end of the night.  Marcin Gortat commented similarly, citing the sicknesses of Kevin Seraphin, and seldom used DeJuan Blair as well as Wall and Pierce as potential sources of the Wizards' lethargy.

"We're not hungry" said Wizards guard Bradley Beal, who was a bright spot  with 18 points and 11 rebounds. "We are not the same team we were in training camp and to start the year off ... We haven't been the same team that got up and was physical and tough on them. We are pretty soft right now."

This seems to be the party line from the Wizards, that their energy and focus are lacking, and their defense in particular has regressed as a result.  There is no question that the Wizards defense isn't where it was earlier in the season; giving up big halves to mediocre offenses like the Lakers, Hornets and Nets is never a good sign, nor is giving up double digit leads to the Thunder and Blazers. The Wizards are a defensive team, and if they aren't good with that, they aren't any good.

The Wizards offense, whether by design or personnel, simply isn't good enough overcome any slippage on the defensive end. Now that Rasual Butler is not shooting like Kyle Korver, Andre Miller can't hit a shot and Gortat continues to struggle, the Wizards midrange heavy offense has even less outside shooting and scoring near the basket to create spacing. The Wizards go through long periods where the offense simply doesn't produce any points.

The Hornets game was no exception. The Wizards started failed to score a point until a Bradley Beal three nearly six minutes into the third quarter. After a Bradley Beal dunk cut the Hornets lead to two midway through the fourth quarter, the Wizards failed to hit another field goal for almost five minutes until a Wall/Gortat pick and roll led to an easy basket with under two minutes left. A late offensive surge wasn't enough as Wall couldn't save the team in the final minute.

Though the Wizards are banged up heading into the final stretch before the All-Star break, Randy Wittman isn't willing to let anyone off the hook. "Everybody has done it, not just us," he said following the game. "Sometimes I think our guys think that we've played 50, and everybody else has played 20."

Whether this is a symptom the Wizards' being an old team, or reflective of the need for a different approach to keep players fresh, the Wizards need something to get them going. Wittman is hopeful he can find the answer, saying "Nobody is feeling good and we are succumbing to that. I've got to fix that."