WASHINGTON (AP) - Randy Wittmann has been a head coach in the NBA before. He just didn't want to be one under these conditions.
Flip Saunders abruptly left the Washington Wizards before Wednesday's game to be with his ailing mother, leaving Wittmann in charge.
After losing 10 of the previous 11 games and all 15 on the road, perhaps the Wizards could have been excused for bemoaning their fate at halftime.
After a sloppy 24 minutes with the score tied at 44 and Kirk Hinrich, their sole player to participate in all 30 games gone with a bruised left thigh, Wittmann had only one thought as he remembered the jagged first half.
``They're not sending this to the museum,' he joked.
After 11 ties in the first half, Washington took control in the second half to beat the Indiana Pacers 104-90.
Hinrich had a sore knee, which he aggravated early in the game, Wittmann said.
Then early in the second quarter, he was kneed in the thigh and after playing a scoreless 12 minutes, Hinrich was done for the night.
After the game, Hinrich limped noticeably on his way to the training room.
With Hinrich out, rookie John Wall, in just his third game after missing five with a bruised right knee, played 35 minutes and was one of six Wizards to score in double figures.
Wall, who had 10 points, 12 assists and seven rebounds, cramped up during the game.
``I was drinking a lot of Gatorades and waters during the breaks. I'm not used to playing that many minutes after being out for so long,' Wall said. ``I just got to get myself back in better shape.'
Nick Young led Washington with 25 points and a career-high nine rebounds.
``I'm mad at myself. I wanted to have a double-double - first time,' Young said.
He shot 26 times and liked that Wittmann kept encouraging him.
``(Wittmann) made me continue to shoot. He told me to keep shooting. I love a coach who tells me to keep shooting,' Young said.
Andray Blatche had 22 points and 11 rebounds and JaVale McGee had 16 points and 10 rebounds, Cartier Martin had 11 and Rashard Lewis 10 for Washington. The Wizards had a season-low nine turnovers.
Mike Dunleavy had 20 points and Danny Granger 15 for the Pacers, who've lost seven of their past nine games - all by more than 10 points. Indiana has dropped seven straight on the road.
``We're not getting too much of anything going offensively,' Granger said. ``Even the shots that we're making, they're challenged shots - we've got hands in our faces. Especially tonight, we'd come down and they'd break us down and they were shooting wide-open jump shots.'
The Wizards began the fourth quarter with an 11-2 run to extend a five-point lead to 83-69 with 8:24 to play. The Wizards made it 89-72 on Wall's layup.
Much of Washington's damage came when Roy Hibbert, the Pacers' center was on the bench. He committed five fouls in just 15 minutes and had just five points. Hibbert, who played for Georgetown in college, didn't have a happy visit to D.C.
``I deserved each one of those fouls. It was horrible. I played horrible,' Hibbert said.
The Wizards, who are 0-15 on the road, improved to 8-7 at home, but have yet to beat a team with a winning record.
Wittmann, who's been an NBA head coach with Cleveland and Minnesota wasn't sure how long Saunders would be away.
``I didn't do anything different,' Wittmann said. ``I'm ready to move back over to that seat to the right.'
NOTES: The Wizards and Pacers play again on Friday afternoon in Indianapolis. ... Wittmann laughed when asked if in his temporary job, he would consider signing his son Ryan, who played with Cornell when they reached the Sweet 16 in last March's NCAA tournament. Ryan Wittmann is playing professionally in Europe. ``That's not a bad idea. I didn't think of that. He's on a plane back to Italy right now,' Wittmann said. ... Wizards F Yi Jianlin, who has missed seven games with a sprained right knee, will practice with the team on Thursday. ... Lance Stephenson, the Pacers' second-round pick in last June's draft, hasn't been active for any games, and coach Jim O'Brien doesn't expect to him to play any time soon because Indiana has four other point guards. ``If I thought we could be better if I played Lance, I would. That's not my opinion,' O'Brien said.
The Associated Press News Service
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