- The Washington Times
Tuesday, November 27, 2012

John Wall had a huge smile. Martell Webster told a joke. Cartier Martin and Bradley Beal were laughing. The Wizards’ afternoon practice had just ended Tuesday, and the four players were at the far end of the court, putting up shots and enjoying a rare light moment.

The levity wasn’t a sign that they’re taking their situation lightly. Instead, they were trying to find any way they can to lift their spirits in the wake of Washington’s franchise-worst 0-12 start.

To that end, they held a clear-the-air meeting with the coaching staff, had a film session, then followed it with one of their best practices of the season.

“[There was] a lot of talking, watching film, letting them speak,” coach Randy Wittman said. “[It was] a good back-and-forth, and we had a good spirited practice.” Asked for specifics, Wittman didn’t budge.

“I’m [not] gonna tell you that,” Wittman joked. “If I was, I’d invite you in the locker room.”

The meeting gave the players and coaches a chance to regroup and refocus after suffering their worst loss of the season, a 118-92 drubbing at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs on Monday.

In the Spurs, the Wizards saw one of the league’s best teams and best-run organizations up close.

In his postgame news conference, Wittman expressed the hope that the Wizards could play like that someday. In the meantime, he’s doing his best to keep his players from getting too down as the losses mount and he continues to search for answers.

“We gotta keep moving, fighting,” Wittman said. “The league’s not going to feel sorry for you because you’re down 12 games. I always want a dialogue with my players. If they see things differently that can be done, then they’ve got to speak up.”

For Beal, the 0-12 start is a new experience. He said he’s never lost more than four games in a row until this year. He called the meeting a good way to make certain players and coaches are on the same page.

“It was Randy’s [suggestion],” Beal said. “He came in the locker room and began talking and said, ‘What do you guys feel?’ Martell stepped up on the floor and told him, ‘You can’t take responsibility for everything because you’re not the one playing.’”

After the 108-106 double overtime loss to the Charlotte Bobcats on Saturday, Wittman shouldered the blame, but his players didn’t agree.

“He’s not the one playing,” Beal said. “It’s up to us players to go out there and play together on both ends of the floor.”

Next up for the Wizards are the Portland Trail Blazers (6-8) on Wednesday night.

Portland lost at Detroit 108-101 on Monday and arrived at Verizon Center on Tuesday afternoon for a practice session as the Wizards were wrapping up.

Webster, one of the team’s most vocal players, thinks the Blazers will see a different team than the one that was manhandled by San Antonio.

“Maybe we need to change our mental approach,” Webster said. “We do a good job of not letting everything on the outside distract us because in this locker room, this is all we have. We can’t look anywhere else for help.”

• Carla Peay can be reached at cpeay@washingtontimes.com.

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