Ed Tapscott didn't expect all of his games as coach of the Washington Wizards to go as well as his first one. He also has to hope they don't go as badly as the second one did.The new coach of the worst team in the Eastern Conference looks to surpass the number of wins his predecessor had this season when the Wizards host the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday.
When Washington fired coach Eddie Jordan on Monday with the team off to a 1-10 start, Tapscott was given the job for the rest of the season after serving as the team's director of player development.
His NBA coaching debut went better than he could have expected, with the Wizards (2-11) showing more hustle and enthusiasm than they had all season under Jordan in a 124-100 victory over Golden State on Tuesday. Two nights later, however, Washington trailed by as many as 23 points in the second half and never threatened in the fourth quarter of a 105-90 loss to Orlando.
That defeat saw the Wizards go 3-of-17 from 3-point range and shoot 42.2 percent from the field after making 50.5 percent versus Golden State en route to their highest point total of the season.
"That was a one-of-a-kind game," Tapscott said, referring to his debut and realizing the spark from a coaching change wouldn't last.
Even Antawn Jamison said after the win that the team "just fed off the energy."
Jamison has posted seven consecutive double-doubles, averaging 22.3 points and 11.3 rebounds, but Washington is 1-6 in that span.
Fellow Wizards All-Star Caron Butler has averaged 27.7 points in the last three games. He scored 32 in a 91-87 loss to Atlanta on Nov. 19 in the lone meeting between these teams this season.
That victory ended a four-game losing streak for the Hawks (9-6), a skid that followed their 6-0 start. However, the Hawks were at home for that first matchup and they have been a much different team on the road lately, losing five in a row.
The Hawks, leading the Eastern Conference in 3-point shooting 41.7 percent, went 2-of-13 from beyond the arc in the second half at Toronto on Friday in a 93-89 loss. They finished 8-of-26 from 3-point range, their least accurate performance since the season opener.
"We hurt ourselves because we settled too much for 3s," coach Mike Woodson said. "We were just too selfish tonight. Sometimes those shots are appetizing and they look good, but if you're not making jump shots, you've got to get to the free throw line."
Atlanta leading scorer Joe Johnson was 1-of-9 on 3-point attempts as his struggles continued. He's averaged 12.3 points and shot 12-of-42 (28.6 percent) from the field over the last three games.
The Hawks lost for the first time in eight games this season when holding the opposition under 100 points.
The Wizards have continued to play mediocre defense under Tapscott. Washington, which has given up at least 100 points in four straight games, is allowing 103.3 per game this season while letting opponents shoot 47.3 percent from the field - both are among the worst averages in the league.