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Wizards' Wall needs to stay upbeat despite slump, says coach

Washington Wizards' head coach Randy Wittman directs his team against the Miami Heat in the second half of their NBA basketball game in Miam
Washington Wizards' head coach Randy Wittman directs his team against the Miami Heat in the second half of their NBA basketball game in Miam

By Steve Ginsburg

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Frustrated, aggravated and searching for answers, Washington Wizards coach Randy Wittman says former first overall draft pick John Wall needs to remain upbeat during his puzzling slump.

"He is going through a rough stretch," Wittman said. "Whether it's a game, a stretch, two weeks, a week, 10 days, you got to fight through it.

"You can't succumb to it. You can't feel sorry for yourself."

The National Basketball Association's Wizards were a dismal 5-28 before Wall returned to the line-up in January following off-season knee surgery. But with the third-year guard back in action, the team is 13-10.

During the Wizards' 96-95 home loss to the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday, the point guard scored six points on three-of-nine shooting with a game-high seven turnovers.

"Just not making shots," Wall said softly after the Wizards' three-game winning streak was snapped. "That's all I can say."

The puzzling part of Wall's collapse is that the Wizards are playing better just by having the 2010 number one draft pick on the court.

In his past five games, including a one-for-12 shooting stinker against Toronto, Wall is averaging just 10.2 points on 29.6 percent shooting with 7.6 assists and 4.6 turnovers. He has at least six turnovers in five of his last nine games.

So puzzling is Wall's woes that reporters are questioning his health.

"No health (problems) at all," he said. "Just trying to play basketball and do my best to help my team win."

Wall played only 24 minutes against the Pistons and was outplayed by back-up A.J. Price, who scored nine points and had eight assists.

Wizards rookie guard Bradley Beal came to the defense of his struggling backcourt mate.

"He's passionate. He's competitive," said Beal. "I love that kid. He's a good point guard. I don't care what anybody says, he's going to be fine regardless.

"He just has to hold his head high and keep moving forward."

Wall had four early turnovers and was sent to the bench by Wittman.

"Those were great passes," he said. "Some of my teammates aren't catching them, some of them got tipped away. Just got to deal with it."

Wittman said Wall is not the only player that needs to keep pushing when things are not going well.

"Not only John, we feel sorry for ourselves sometimes instead of fighting through it," he said.

(Editing by Frank Pingue)

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