Randy Wittman admits he’s not motivating Washington Wizards

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Losing to the Boston Celtics isn’t embarrassing.

Boston is 15-29 this season – hardly great, but definitely not a record indicative of a team that can’t compete.

But losing to the Celtics when they don’t have Rajon Rando, Avery Bradley and Jerryd Bayless? When they outscore you by four points in the six minutes their backcourt is comprised of two players, Vander Blue and Chris Johnson, on 10-day contracts?

Now, we’re probably venturing into embarrassing territory.

The Washington Wizards had won four of five, but Wednesday’s setback to Boston has Wizards coach Randy Wittman at a loss.

Wittman, via J. Michael of CSN Washington:

“I don’t know. Im searching for different ways, different motives, different things. I’ve got to continue to do that. Obviously, it’s not coming across. (Rajon) Rondo is not playing (Avery) Bradley is not playing. Do you take a sigh of relief and then you go out and play like that? I’ll continue to figure out what buttons I need to push with this team to get them over that hump. I’ve got to help them. I’m part of that, too.”

Credit Wittman for being so introspective. Way too many coaches just blame players when things go poorly without looking in the mirror.

But Wittman is in his third season in charge of the Wizards. (He took over for Flip Saunders during the 2011-12 season, coaching 41 of 66 games). At this point, shouldn’t he have a better idea how to reach his players?

Wittman has improved immensely since taking over, and it’s clear why. He hasn’t deflected blame, constantly challenging himself to make the right adjustments.

That goes only so far, though.

After signing Wittman a two-year extension that runs through the end of this season, the Wizards have seemingly kept him, at least in part, because they don’t want to pay for a replacement. That thrifty plan made sense when they were outside the playoffs, regardless.

But now that they’re headed to the postseason, maybe a new coach would help get them to the next level.

Whatever the Wizards do with Wittman, they can at least count on him trying to improve as long as they have him.

Reports: Pelicans to sign Jameer Nelson with Rondo out

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With Rajon Rondo out 4-6 weeks with a sports hernia, the New Orleans Pelicans were looking for a solid backup point guard.

This week, to make room to sign Richard Jefferson, the Denver Nuggets waived veteran Jameer Nelson.

While other teams such as the Rockets were calling, the Pelicans and Nelson have reached a deal, reports both Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports added this.

Nelson, in his 14th NBA season, became the top free agent on the market and received interest from contenders such as the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder and several other franchises that hoped to add the respected and accomplished veteran. But for Nelson, the Pelicans represent an opportunity to play significant minutes and provide leadership.

The Pelicans had a full roster of 15 players, they could have waited until next Tuesday and gotten a disabled player exception to add a 16th player, but they decided to go with something more permanent.

Jrue Holiday starts at the point for the Pelicans but with Rondo out — he was supposed to start next to Holiday — there is no depth at the position. The Pelicans can have Nelson step in and get minutes from the first time he steps on the court.

Nelson is still a solid pick-and-roll point guard, but what he brings to the table the Pelicans need more is shooting — he shot 38.8 percent from three last season and is a good spot up player. He can penetrate and make plays off handoffs as well, but it’s his shooting on a team that needs it that will be most valued.

The Pelicans have started the season 0-2 with losses to Memphis and Golden State. They take on the Lakers in Los Angeles Sunday night.

DeMarcus Cousins fined $25,000 for cursing at fan

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Near the end of New Orleans’ season-opening loss in Memphis, DeMarcus Cousins started getting into a war of words with a female Grizzlies fan, an exchange where allegedly “F-bombs” were dropped in both directions.

That’s going to cost Cousins.

Saturday the league announced that the Pelicans’ center has been fined $25,000 for “directing inappropriate language towards a fan.”

Cousins got a technical foul during this exchange, and that has been rescinded.

Cousins has averaged 31 points and 10 rebounds a game through two games this season, but it hasn’t been enough as New Orleans has started the season 0-2.

It’s not about the shoes: Kevin Durant loses his, blocks two shots anyway

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Shoes? Kevin Durant don’t need no stinkin’ shoes.

Early in the second quarter of the Warriors win in New Orleans Friday, Durant came out of his shoes on a layup in the lane. He then picked up his shoe, carried it to the other end, flipped it to the bench, and played defense without it, and while he got moved out of the way allowing an offensive rebound for the Pelicans he then proceeded to block Tony Allen twice at the rim.

Durant — after deciding to play the rest of the game in shoes — had seven blocks on the night, to go with 22 points.

Joel Embiid frustrated, wants more post touches, to play back-to-backs

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Joel Embiid remains a frustrated man.

He wants to be unleashed on the NBA, and he feels he’s being held back.

Part of that is not playing in back-to-backs — Embiid started Friday night against Boston but will sit out by plan Saturday night against the Raptors in Toronto. Embiid knows the plan to help protect a body that has played only 31 games in three seasons before this one and was not cleared for most of training camp, but that doesn’t mean he likes it, as he told Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia.

“I just want to feel like an NBA player,” Embiid said.  “I feel like I’m not an NBA player because I can’t play back-to-back.”

I get his frustration, but can you blame the Sixers for treating the guy like he’s made of glass at this point? Hopefully, later in the season, he can be cleared to play on both ends.

His second frustration came from the loss to the Celtics on Friday — he wants more post touches. In the video above he is clear, “I didn’t get the ball enough in the post.”

He’s right here. Embiid had three post-ups all game, one in each of the game’s first three quarters (stat via Synergy Sports). Embiid is efficient in the post — he has shot 9-of-12 on those plays overall this season and the Sixers score 1.33 points per possession when he does. That will work especially well against teams going small (for example, the Cavaliers with Kevin Love at the five), although Friday night Boston had big man Aron Baynes starting at center (in part because of Embiid, in part because Marcus Smart was out injured). Still, Embiid can score on Baynes.

Take a look at Embiid’s shot chart from Friday night.

Part of this is on him with all the threes, but they have to utilize him better. It’s part of the Sixers growing pains that will come this season.