SAN ANTONIO — At times following setbacks during this Washington Wizards season, Coach Scott Brooks would tell his players and reporters alike that the team still possesses sufficient resources to win.
“We have enough,” Brooks repeated Wednesday night before facing the San Antonio Spurs.
Often, the Wizards have rewarded this confidence — overcoming the loss of Markieff Morris at the start the year, responding well to the absence of John Wall following knee surgery. But in a 98-90 loss at AT&T Center, the Wizards were simply caught in a numbers game.
With a roster missing two reserve players, Brooks’s short rotation was unable to keep pace. A close game at intermission spiraled into a large deficit as the Wizards (40-31) dropped to sixth place in the Eastern Conference standings and faltered for the 18th straight game in San Antonio — a tradition that began in 1999 and endures as the team’s longest active road losing streak.
Bradley Beal and Kelly Oubre Jr. each scored 21 points. The team made just 42.7 percent from the floor.
Before the game, Brooks announced that Jodie Meeks and Mike Scott would not play as both dealt with flulike symptoms. Although the illnesses affected team depth, Washington’s starting five overmatched San Antonio. Beal started the game by hitting five of his first six shots, and the Wizards opened a seven-point lead.
When Brooks turned to his bench, the minutes to Oubre and Tomas Satoransky in an attempt to keep the lineups as similar as possible without Meeks and Scott. The plan worked.
Even as the Spurs (42-30) turned to veteran reserves Manu Ginóbili, Tony Parker, Rudy Gay and Pau Gasol and recovered from an 0-for-6 shooting start, Washington stayed within a possession or worked to tie the game. The Wizards forced turnovers, blocked shots, defended inside and Oubre carried the bench (the unit scored 45 of the team’s 90 points) — doing just enough to stay competitive, although the team closed the final five minutes of the half with only two field goals.
The Spurs, however, have a way of wearing down teams. And after winning four straight games at home, San Antonio comfortably settled into a matchup that clearly favored its depth.
Early in the third quarter, Beal finished at the rim through a foul and his three-point play pulled the Wizards within 50-47. The moment, the final time the Wizards could claim to be in the game, did not last for long as the Spurs started make Spurs-like plays.
Forward Kyle Anderson set his feet for a wide-open corner three. Point guard Dejounte Murray chased down three offensive rebounds to set up center LaMarcus Aldridge for free throws. Then, Aldridge took over — backing down Marcin Gortat, spinning and hitting a jump shot while getting fouled. During the Spurs’ 14-4 run, Aldridge hit two more shots and Washington fell deeper into a hole that expanded to 22 points by the fourth quarter.
Aldridge scored 27 points and grabbed nine rebounds, while Anderson made 7 of 8 shots for 16 points.