After gaining a double-digit lead against the San Antonio Spurs, who lost Tony Parker early in the game to injury, the Washington Wizards fell apart and eventually went on to lose to the depleted San Antonio Spurs in double overtime.
The Wizards have played some great defense in the past few games, and they continued that trend right out of the gate. John Wall pressured Tony Parker, forcing multiple turnovers early on, and the Wizards scored in transition. John Wall scored 14 of his 29 points in the first quarter and it looked like he’d have another big scoring game, but it eventually wore off. He found his teammates for 9 assists, but could’ve had 10+ if Nene and Marcin Gortat didn’t miss so many shots around the rim. Nene scored 12 points on 4-14 shooting, and the Wizards continued to run their offense through him in the post, despite missing the vast majority of his shots. Gortat made just 3 of his 8 field goal tries, but he missed multiple easy looks off pick-and-rolls with John Wall that could’ve potentially changed the outcome of the game. To make matters worse, he missed both free throws in a crucial part of the game. The front court has seen better days, but I thought Tiago Splitter and Tim Duncan did a terrific job defensively.
Speaking of Tim Duncan: He was absolutely unstoppable tonight. He scored 31 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, and he got whatever he wanted against Nene and Gortat. Whenever the Spurs needed a bucket, especially with Parker out, Duncan delivered in the clutch. Despite being outmatched athletically, Duncan has held his own and is still one of the best big men in the NBA. It’s fascinating to watch.
Washington could’ve avoided the loss if they continued to play defense with the same intensity as they did in the first half, where they scored 62 points, much of which was a result of their defense on the ball. They went under screens against Patty Mills and they eventually paid the price. He scored 23 points in just 20 minutes of action. Even though Mills is a streaky shooter and has the potential to score in bunches, allowing him to completely dominate the game offensively is unacceptable.
Without Bradley Beal in overtime, who played a very physical 34 minutes tonight and the coaches opted to sit him for the remainder of the game, the Wizards just couldn’t get it going offensively. Beal scored 19 points, and the Wizards really missed his scoring touch when it mattered most. Trevor Booker provided some energy off the bench, but besides that, no one really stood out besides John Wall. The most memorable play of the game came when John Wall stole the ball after San Antonio threw an errant in-bounds pass, ran up the court, and finished the layup to force the game to double-overtime. If that doesn’t show heart, than I don’t know what does.
These losses hurt, but I’m sure the Wizards will grow from it. It would’ve been nice to have the team continue their recent success against Western Conference teams, but the Spurs were just too good tonight. It’s really that simple.
Washington will be back at it against the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night.