Wizards Dance The Texas Misstep

nick young - washington wizards
Rookie guard Nick Young makes a bold if ill-advised drive to the rim Wednesday night in San Antonio. The Wizards return to action Friday night in Philadelphia. (Eric Gay - AP)
By Ivan Carter
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, November 29, 2007

SAN ANTONIO, Nov. 28 -- The Tony Parker highlight reel got rolling late in the fourth quarter when the San Antonio Spurs guard made a layup with his back to the basket, continued when he drove and released a floater that found nothing but net and peaked when he made a layup after spinning into the lane like Earl Monroe.

In all, Parker torched the Washington Wizards for 29 points on 12-of-18 shooting and added 11 assists and eight rebounds as the Spurs beat the Wizards, 109-94, at AT&T Center on Wednesday night.

Parker's late heroics cracked open a close game and broke some of the momentum the Wizards created with a rare win at Dallas on Monday night.

The Wizards (7-8) had won seven of nine and were 4-2 since Gilbert Arenas last played but suffered their eighth straight loss at San Antonio mainly because they couldn't handle Parker.

"I've always respected Tony Parker," said center Brendan Haywood, who led the Wizards with a season-high 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting with five rebounds and two blocks. "To me, he and Steve Nash are the best two point guards in the league. They are 1A and 1B."

The Wizards didn't play poorly as they shot 46.7 percent, made eight three-pointers and had 22 assists compared with 10 turnovers. But the defending champion Spurs (13-3) were better when it counted, shooting 61.5 percent in the second half and outscoring the Wizards 30-24 in the final period.

Wizards forward Caron Butler averaged 24.3 points over the previous six games and scored 35 in the win at Dallas but was hounded by Bruce Bowen all night and finished with 16 points on 5-of-9 shooting. Antawn Jamison, who had been similarly hot coming into the game, was held to 12 points on 4-of-15 shooting.

While Parker and the Spurs took over in the fourth quarter, Butler and Jamison each went 0 for 3. After combining to average 63 points in the previous four games, Butler and Jamison totaled 28 as the Wizards failed to score at least 100 points for the first time in 10 games.

"To get the looks you have to be able to get the ball," said Butler. "You gotta give the credit to their defense. Bruce Bowen and those guys did excellent jobs of shadowing us and it made it difficult for us to get the ball."

Said Bowen, who scored 12 points: "I'm old school and I try to keep guys from getting the ball in their sweet spots."

After a tight first half during which the Spurs' largest lead was five, a Michael Finley three-pointer gave San Antonio a 61-51 lead with 7 minutes 53 seconds remaining in the third.

The advantage hovered around 10 through the remainder of the period and twice reached 14 points as the Spurs used Parker's penetration and good ball movement to create open shots while also clamping down on the Wizards.

Still, the Wizards trailed only 79-70 going into the fourth after Andray Blatche and Nick Young closed the third with scores. Washington had a chance to further cut into the lead midway in the fourth but three scoreless possessions followed by a Parker layup and a three-pointer by Brent Barry pushed San Antonio ahead 93-80 with 6:02 to go.

En route to improving to 9-0 at home this season, the Spurs executed in their usual fashion. Tim Duncan (16 points and seven rebounds) wasn't a huge factor but Manu Ginobili scored 19 points off the bench and the Spurs made 10 three-pointers.

The only out-of-ordinary thing about Wednesday night was Parker's shot-making, which appeared to come right off of the playground.

"It's not like he was getting to the rim and nobody was there, guys were there," said Wizards guard Antonio Daniels. "He had double-pumps, triple-pumps, left-handers, right-handers. If he misses two or three of those shots, we get a chance to run with it and it's a different game. You just can't stop everything."

Notes: The Wizards wore their gold and black alternate uniforms for the third straight game. . . . Washington's last win at San Antonio came on Dec. 11, 1999. Duncan is the lone holdover from either team's roster from that game though Daniels played for San Antonio that season.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company