Brooks’s joke hearkens back to last month’s brief Twitter spat between point guard John Wall and center Marcin Gortat, but Tuesday night the good feelings were genuine as seven players scored in double figures and every Wizard who checked in for longer than mop-up duty recorded at least one assist.
The balance of 33 assists on 46 field goals (54.1 percent shooting) brought to mind those late January and early February games when the Wizards responded to Wall’s absence by distributing the ball and sharing the offense.
“It’s good to see 33 assists. That’s what we want to keep doing,” Brooks said. “We want to keep moving the basketball. We want to [make] an extra pass, good-to-great shots, and we did that.
“The starters did a good job. The bench came in and did a good job in the fourth quarter,” Brooks repeated: “Overall it was a good win for us.”
Everybody ate. Then everybody rested.
In the fourth quarter, as the reserves cruised to the end of the game, Gortat sat in a hooded jacket while massing the gel in his spiky Mohawk. Tomas Satoransky popped up for every time Ian Mahinmi hammered down a dunk or Kelly Oubre Jr. sliced through the San Antonio defense.
Also, Bradley Beal turned into the Capital One Arena cheerleader for free chicken, demonstratively waving his towel as the crowd rooted against Spurs guard Brandon Paul when he went to the free throw line so they could get fast-food coupons.
For the past eight weeks, as Wall has rehabilitated from left knee surgery, many of the core starters have played extra minutes and taken on additional roles to compensate for his absence.
But against a Spurs team that, like Washington, is playing to improve its playoff seeding, the Wizards (41-33) delivered a rare blowout, the team’s first win by double figures since March 9 in New Orleans. The starters remained fastened to the bench while the backups handled the dirty work.
“I enjoyed it,” said Beal, who played less than 28 minutes and finished with seven points and six assists. “It’s always good to be able to be back there, get a little rest every now and then. We should have had a lot of games like this leading up to this point. But you take them when you can.”
Four bench players finished in double figures, and the unit totaled 61 points.
“As a bench we feel like it’s our responsibility to maintain the lead,” Jodie Meeks said.
The five-man unit consisting of Oubre, Mahinmi, Meeks, Ramon Sessions and Mike Scott did more than maintain. The group flipped a 31-23 disadvantage into the highest-scoring second quarter of the season. Washington outscored San Antonio 38-21 and over a stretch that lasted nearly 11 minutes, the bench created a trio of three-point plays and made 10 of the team’s 14 shots. After securing the 59-45 lead at halftime, the Spurs (43-32) never seriously threatened in the second half.
“I thought tonight was a great example of a team,” Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich said. “The Wizards, who wanted to prove something, wanted to come out and play hard, play together, be disciplined at both ends of the court and play the game the right way. So, I thought they did a great job. As far as we’re concerned, I thought it was a really poor example of mental toughness in the sense of no real discipline and no real effort.”
Oubre and Sessions scored 12 points apiece, and Meeks made five shots and reached 13 points. Scott finished with 11 points and seven rebounds.
Starter Otto Porter Jr. hit his first five shots of the game, finished with 14 points and together with Markieff Morris made a formidable frontcourt. The pair combined for 13-of-14 shooting and 29 points — and the only thing that could stop this force was the referee’s whistle.
Making the most of the Wizards’ ball movement that created the 33 assists on 46 field goals, Morris didn’t hesitate whenever he received a crisp pass, making all seven of his shots, including his lone three-pointer, a 27-footer.
“They had a smaller lineup. Just trying to get down low, attack the bigger guys,” Morris said, then summarized: “I made some shots.”
Morris played only 17 minutes through three quarters because of foul trouble. However since the Wizards took a 22-point lead into the fourth quarter, Morris and the rest of the starters weren’t needed.
Spurs all-star LaMarcus Aldridge missed the second half with a left knee contusion. Before his injury, Aldridge was battering the Wizards just as he did last week in the Spurs’ win. In 17 minutes, Aldridge scored 13 points and grabbed four rebounds.
Aldridge was the one player the Wizards could not account for in the paint — his four made shots, the most of all teammates in the first half, all came within the restricted circle. While the Spurs had little offensive production (39 percent in the opening half), they could rely on the paint and scored 22 points off 11 field goals.
However when Aldridge exited the game, so went San Antonio’s offensive thrust. The Spurs finished the game shooting 45 percent.