Flip Saunders wants his Washington Wizards to play smart and have fun. Prized rookie John Wall seems to have no trouble grasping either concept.
Coming off the best performance of his young career, Wall looks to help the Wizards avoid losing to the visiting Charlotte Bobcats for the fifth consecutive time Friday night.
Wall barely missed his first career triple-double with 29 points, 13 assists and nine steals during a 116-115 home win over Philadelphia on Nov. 2. Eight days later, the No. 1 overall pick draft achieved that feat with 19 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds in Wednesday's 98-91 victory over Houston.
"Sometimes I get too excited trying to make a spectacular play instead of the simple play," Wall said. "I think I did the right thing with the simple plays."
Wall is averaging 19.3 points and ranks among the league leaders with 10.2 assists per game, but Washington (2-4) must find a way to win when the former Kentucky star doesn't put up gaudy numbers. He has scored fewer than 15 points in three of the club's four losses.
Forward Andray Blatche, who had 20 points and 11 boards Wednesday, has complemented Wall by averaging 17.5 points and 8.2 rebounds.
Looking for more cohesiveness and a better sense of urgency from his team, Saunders walked out of a practice Monday and then called for a second session later in the day. With more than half his roster comprised of players with three or fewer years of NBA service, Saunders is trying not to make things difficult on his club.
"It's back to fundamentals," Saunders told the Wizards' official website. "It's back to execution basketball. It's also about getting back to having fun and thinking about when you played when you were a kid and just had fun. What I want them to do is to realize the seriousness but not lose the passion of fun playing too."
The Wizards employed stifling defense Wednesday, allowing a season low for points while holding the Rockets to 39.1 percent shooting.
However, a lack of offense has plagued the Wizards against the Bobcats of late.
Washington has averaged 88.0 points while losing eight of nine to Charlotte. They averaged 81.0 on 39.4 percent shooting while dropping both home games to the Bobcats last season.
Blatche totaled 10 points in those contests.
Coming off their first-ever playoff appearance, the Bobcats (2-6) have started slow but both wins have come on the road. Charlotte had 13 road victories last season and didn't win its third game away from home until Jan. 3.
Stephen Jackson had 20 points and Gerald Wallace added 19 with 14 rebounds as the Bobcats snapped a three-game skid with a 101-96 win at Toronto on Wednesday.
"We still have a long way to go but I'm proud of them," coach Larry Brown said.
Wallace, who has double-doubles in three of his last five contests, averaged 17.8 points and 13.0 rebounds in four games against the Wizards last season.