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Wizards Prepare For Bobcats, First Game Under Wittman

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WASHINGTON (WJFK/AP) — The league-worst Washington Wizards are hoping a coaching change can help them salvage their season.

The Charlotte Bobcats need to doing something different soon or theirs could be lost.

Playing for the first time since coach Flip Saunders was fired, the Randy Wittman-led Wizards will try to leapfrog the visiting Bobcats in the Eastern Conference standings on Wednesday night in a battle of the NBA’s worst teams.

With just two wins in their first 17 games, the Wizards couldn’t wait any longer for the team to turn the corner, firing Saunders on Tuesday after he went 51-130 in two-plus seasons.

Even though team president Ernie Grunfeld said the players need to hear a new voice, Wittman, a former assistant, knows it’s going to take far more than a coaching switch for Washington to start playing competitive basketball.

The Wizards are averaging 88.6 points, and they’re giving up 107.1 per game in their last seven following Monday’s 103-83 loss at Philadelphia.

“I’m not the miracle-maker here,” said Wittman, in his third stint as an NBA head coach with a career record of 100-207, and first since getting fired by Minnesota 19 games into the 2008-09 season. “We’ve got to change our outlook on how we play. Sometimes, when you have such a young team, players get a little confused, I think, when the word ‘development’ is used – that they’re going to be able to develop just playing. Development has to happen on the practice floor.”

However, second-year point guard John Wall and the Wizards won’t get much of that this week as they begin a stretch of three games in four nights that ends Saturday in Charlotte.

That will be the Bobcats’ lone home game in their next seven contests.

Charlotte (3-15) makes the first of two trips to the nation’s capital this season following an awful offensive performance on Tuesday. The team made a season-low 27 field goals, shot 32.9 percent and lost its fifth straight, 111-78 to New York.

Point guard D.J. Augustin was sidelined with an inflamed right big toe, and he’s expected to miss at least the next three.

“We just didn’t have enough,” coach Paul Silas said. “We had really two players that played tonight, that’s Kemba Walker (22 points) and Gerald Henderson (15). I think (Derrick) Brown scored a little bit there (15 points) at the end but that was it.”

The Bobcats are scoring 85.0 points per game while losing six in a row on the road. Charlotte’s last seven-game skid away from home was an 0-9 stretch from Nov. 19-Dec. 20, 2010.

Charlotte’s last defeat during that span was 108-75 to Washington.

Playing without Wall (knee tendinitis) in that game, the Wizards avoided a sixth consecutive loss to the Bobcats and fourth in a row at home in this series.

These teams split four games in 2010-11, with each winning once on the road.

(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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