Wizards vs. Spurs: Washington falls, 112-97, as misery in San Antonio continues
By Michael Lee,
UPDATED, 7:27 a.m.
SAN ANTONIO — San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker dribbled around John Wall and Wall batted away the ball, drilling Jan Vesely square in the forehead. After Vesely gathered himself, Wall got the ball and zipped a pass ahead to JaVale McGee that hit him in the face. Spurs reserve guard Danny Green recovered the carom, then inexplicably threw a pass that was intercepted by Vesely. Vesely then delivered another pass to McGee that he converted into an uncontested dunk.
If the Washington Wizards were going to end an 11-game losing streak in San Antonio, they were going to need a few balls to bounce their way, even if they had to bounce off their faces first. But unfortunately for the Wizards, that error-filled, second-quarter sequence was one of the few times the Spurs’ ball movement wasn’t at its most crisp during San Antonio’s 112-97 victory at AT&T Center.
For most of the night, the Spurs had their way offensively against the Wizards. San Antonio shot 54 percent from the floor and handed out a season-high 30 assists — 23 in the first half.
“Until we really make that commitment defensively, good teams are going to give us problems,” said veteran reserve Roger Mason Jr., who spent two years playing with the Spurs. “This team here, if you’re undisciplined defensively or offensively, you’re not going to come here and win. San Antonio takes advantage of your mistakes.”
The Wizards (9-31) opened their longest trip of the season in the place where they have had the longest drought without a win. They have now lost 12 in a row overall to the Spurs and 12 straight on the road against the Spurs — with 11 of the 12 road losses all coming by double digits. Their last win in San Antonio came on Dec. 11, 1999, when the Spurs played at Alamodome.
McGee led the Wizards with 21 points, 15 rebounds and even had an impressive block on Tim Duncan in the fourth quarter. But the Wizards were ineffective defensively, as Parker carved up the defense and led all scorers with 31 points, on 13-for-18 shooting, and had Wall dizzy trying to chase him around screens.
Parker helped the Spurs build an 18-point lead in the first half, and whenever the Wizards made a run to get within single digits, Parker had the response. He effectively used Duncan as the shield, using his pick and getting around Wall for a layup, pulling up for a jumper or setting up his teammates. Parker and Manu Ginobili led the Spurs with seven assists apiece.
“We tried everything. He really torched us,” Coach Randy Wittman said after the Wizards lost their four consecutive game on the road. “Obviously, he is a tough cover, but in that first half, we just allowed him to get to the rim time after time after time.”
The Spurs were an efficient offensive machine in the first half, as they had 23 assists on 28 field goals. San Antonio made several passes on each possession, relying on its intricate sets and sharing to produce offense rather than improvisation. On one of the rare times the Spurs didn’t swing the ball, they got easy baskets in transition. Duncan had 14 points and surpassed Clyde Drexler for 25th on the all-time scoring list and showed that he still has plenty left even though he’s a few weeks shy of 36.
He grabbed a rebound near the three-point line early in the game, and dribbled the length of the court for an uncontested dunk as McGee watched in awe.
“We did well on offense, but didn’t play any defense,” forward Trevor Booker said. “They put us in pick and rolls all night and got layup after layup and open shot after open shot.”
The Wizards were able to hang around early because Jordan Crawford and Nick Young were able to knock down some incredible shots. Young finished with 18 points on 7-for-10 shooting, but after making three three-pointers in the first quarter, Crawford cooled off. Crawford had 19 points and five assists, but he and Wall combined to miss 20 of their 32 field goal attempts. Wall also had five assists to go with just 12 points.
Andray Blatche had struggled in his first four games since returning from a strained left calf, scoring just 11 points on 5-for-14 shooting as fans at Verizon Center booed his every move.
Blatche didn’t have the best shooting performance Monday night, as he missed seven of his 10 field goal attempts — with one baseline jumper hitting the side of the backboard and another long jumper hitting all glass — but he appeared to be more assertive and deliberate with his moves. He finished with nine points and four rebounds.
“I was definitely a lot more comfortable,” Blatche said. “I’ve been out for a month. I got to keep working hard and staying focused on what I’m trying to get back to.”
After trailing 51-33 in the first half, the Wizards rallied to get within eight points when McGee hit a short runner in the lane with 6 minutes 58 seconds left in the third period. But Parker blew past Wall for a reverse layup, ran around a screen to bury a jumper over Wall, then went by Wall once again for a floater that put the Spurs back up by 14.
“I was trying to chase him,” Wall said of Parker. “He tried to get you off balance. Like any guard in this league, if he’s making his shot, it’s tough to contain him.”
The Wizards’ season-long six-game trip will continue on Tuesday against the defending champion Dallas Mavericks.