Fox Sports: Hoops passed along news that Wittman will miss the contests because his brother passed away. Washington plays the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday and the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday.
Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post noted Wittman’s older brother “died unexpectedly early Saturday morning in Indianapolis.”
Wittman skipped his team’s shootaround before its Saturday contest against the Houston Rockets, but he coached in the game and led the Wizards to a 123-122 victory. He commented on the emotional struggle, per Castillo: “Tough day. But he was here. He watches every game in a La-Z-Boy and he’s up in heaven watching it in a La-Z-Boy. Tough day, but I’m proud of our guys.”
Washington forward Jared Dudley scored 16 points in the win and talked about the additional motivation, per Castillo: “It was a big win. We wanted to win this one for coach. We’ve been struggling and this was a game we were grinding throughout.”
The Wizards offered their support as an organization on Twitter before Saturday’s game:
Kelly Dwyer of Yahoo Sports pointed out it has been a difficult stretch for Wittman:
The Wizards coach has had a rough few months. His former sideline partner, longtime Minnesota and Washington coach Flip Saunders, died just before the 2015-16 season started. Far less important but also worth referencing is the play of his team, which has underachieved in a 21-24, injury-plagued, season thus far.
As of Sunday, the Wizards were 2.5 games behind the Detroit Pistons for the eighth and final spot in the Eastern Conference playoff picture. They will be hard-pressed to improve on that position while their coach is out because they play title contenders in the 36-13 Thunder and 43-4 Warriors.
Washington will get a scheduling break Friday when Wittman is set to return with a game against the 7-41 Philadelphia 76ers.