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Wizards vs. Spurs: Washington gets crushed by NBA's best team

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The Washington Post's LaVar Arrington, Dan Steinberg, Adam Kilgore and Jonathan Forsythe debate whether the Wizards will be able to get their first road win Sunday against the NBA's worst team, the Cleveland Cavaliers.

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Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, February 13, 2011; 12:55 AM

John Wall leaped and stretched his arms for a steal, fighting off San Antonio Spurs guard George Hill for the ball along the baseline. But as he tapped the ball free, Wall went crashing into the three fans seated in the front row, with one having his shirt drenched in the beer Wall knocked over.

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Despite the embarrassing fall, it was decent show of hustle by the No. 1 overall pick. Unfortunately, it had come much too late, because the Washington Wizards were already trailing the Spurs by 22 points, and there were still about 10 minutes left - in the second quarter.

It was a miserable, forgettable night for the Wizards, who played a game that may have been better settled by asking for a forfeit. Hosting the team with the best record in the NBA, the Wizards didn't put up much of a fight after the first minute of a humiliating 118-94 loss.

They were drubbed so badly in front of a rare sellout crowd that fans at Verizon Center couldn't even bring themselves to boo.

"If I was in the crowd, I would've did the same thing," Wall said of the apathetic response to the Wizards' pathetic performance. "It didn't seem like nobody cared out there, including myself, nobody cared. I think we all cared deep down inside, but we didn't play like it, with the type of energy you've got to have when you're at home. No matter if you're losing, you've still got to play hard. We didn't fight."

The Spurs (45-9) won their 11th consecutive game over the Wizards, including a 14-point victory in San Antonio last December. Coming off a disappointing loss the night before in Philadelphia, where they scored just 71 points against the 76ers, the Spurs had 72 points by halftime and led by 41 late in the third quarter.

"Words can't totally explain how I feel. Disappointed. Embarrassed," Coach Flip Saunders said after the Wizards lost for the 11th time in 13 games. "I didn't see this coming, I don't think anyone saw it coming, how well we've played at home, how we got up for big-time opponents."

Cartier Martin and Andray Blatche both led the Wizards with 16 points, but Blatche also had four of the Wizards' 17 turnovers, which contributed to 26 points for the Spurs. Hill and Tony Parker both scored 18 points to lead the Spurs, who rested their starters for most of the fourth quarter, and Aberdeen native Gary Neal came off the bench to score 16 points.

The Wizards (14-38) were already in a dire situation with Rashard Lewis forced to sit out with tendinitis in his right knee, Al Thornton sidelined for the second game with a dislocated finger and Josh Howard delaying his return from a left knee injury until Sunday in Cleveland. That led Coach Flip Saunders to go with a smaller lineup that featured a back court of Wall and Kirk Hinrich, with Nick Young getting his first start at small forward. "I got to be a big man today," Young said before the game.

But Young didn't get to see much time on the floor, as he picked up two early fouls and was limited to four points. He made a fadeaway jumper to bring the Wizards within 14-10, but Parker delivered an early knockout by getting three steals and scoring 10 straight points during a string of 12 in a row by the Spurs.

He stole the ball from Blatche for a driving layup. Then, Blatche attempted a behind-the-back dribble on the next possession, but Parker swooped in to strip him and raced down the floor another layup. JaVale McGee (14 points) met Parker at the rim but was called for goaltending. Parker then intercepted a pass by McGee, who again was called for goaltending.

"This is by far one of the worst losses I've ever seen this year," Blatche said. "Our intensity level was terrible. We came out thinking just because we home and they had a back-to-back that they was going to come in and be tired and slow. We didn't attack them. They attacked us. Man, they couldn't miss. It seemed like every shot they took, lucky bounces, everything, they couldn't miss."

After DeJuan Blair blocked a shot by Hinrich, Richard Jefferson made a running hook to give the Spurs a 26-10 lead with 3 minutes 44 seconds left in the first period. Although there was plenty of time remaining, the game felt as if it was already over.

The Spurs took advantage of several open looks from beyond the three-pointer and received little to no resistance from the Wizards, who played as if they were already looking ahead to the next night in Cleveland, where they will attempt to end a 26-game road losing streak.

As an example of how little went right for the Wizards, after Wall saved the ball before diving into the crowd, Hill caught it, dribbled up the floor and made an easy layup. "I was just trying to play defense," Wall said. "I wish I would've did it more and the team would've, it would've been a good game."

They never had a chance. Spurs reserve Steve Novak made a three-pointer from the left side that rolled around the rim, bounced off the backboard and banked in to give the Spurs a 64-35 lead. Then, after a Blatche dunk, Jefferson made a three-pointer from the right side that rolled around the rim, bounced off the backboard and rolled in to give the Spurs a 30-point led. At that point in the game, Jefferson, Parker and Hill had combined to go 14 for 17 from the floor and outscore the Wizards 40-37.

"You're as good as your last performance," Saunders said. "Right now, we're not very good, based on how we played."



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