The Spurs are an experienced and confident crew. They've grown accustomed to winning over the years without taking any game for granted. Offensively, San Antonio's sharing is caring style leads to exquisite basketball. At the center of it all, a fundamentally stable core group and desirable continuity.
In other words, everything the Wizards are not, not now anyway. San Antonio's 118-92 win in Washington, the Spurs 13th straight over the Wizards and sixth consecutive in the Verizon Center, illuminated the differences. The 12-3 versus 0-12 records do as well.
Tim Duncan's future Hall of Fame resume, one constantly updated with All-Star chapters, started 15 seasons ago. The last 10 included Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili in the mix.
John Wall is the longest tenured Wizard and the injured point guard hasn't played a second in this his third season.
The Spurs returned their entire core from last season's Western Conference regular season championship team. Not just the big three, but their top 10 players. Everyone on the roster except newbie Nando De Colo played for San Antonio last season. Against Washington, key contributors Stephen Jackson and Kawhi Leonard were inactive.
The Wizards have seven new players this season alone and since the start of last season, nine. Only John Wall, Jordan Crawford, Trevor Booker, Kevin Seraphin, Jan Vesely and Chris Singleton opened with Washington in 2011-12. Nobody from that half-dozen has played more than two full seasons.
San Antonio's four-time championship winning coach Gregg Popovich has been pulling the strings on the Spurs bench since 1996. Wizards coach Randy Wittman has been at his current job for 61 games.
"We've been together for so many years and they're so new, trying to figure it out," Ginobili said after the Spurs eighth road win in nine games this season. "The core knowledge is completely different to theirs. They have a lot of rookies and new guys. We are opposites in that regard. That doesn't mean on any given they can't surprise and beat you. I'm glad we played the game we did."
After his team's most lopsided defeat of the season, Wizards' coach Randy Wittman said, “I would like for us to be able to play like that one day. Obviously Popovich and that team have been together for a long time and they know each other very well."
The Spurs drained 13 of 23 three-pointers, shot well over 50 percent from the field in both halves and netted 32 assists, all leading to its season-high point total.
"Credit to them. They carved us up pretty good tonight and we kind of succumbed to it," Wittman said. "Thirty-two assists on 45 baskets, that's the way the game should be played. Hopefully we can take a page out of that for the future.”
The Spurs won with seven players scoring in double figures and the bench outpointing the starters. They won coming off a double-overtime game Sunday in Toronto. Monday night in Washington, game four of a six-game road swing. So far, all W's.
"Overall a great job," said Ginobili, who contributed 12 points, five rebounds and five assists in 20 minutes. "Everybody contributed, we were responsible, we worked hard. We really moved the ball."
On the court, the Spurs move the ball with care and purpose, preferably by the pass rather than the dribble.
"That's always the game plan, to share the ball, get the best shot you possibly can," said Spurs forward Matt Bonner. "We did that tonight, going from a good shot to a great shot, lots of hockey assists. It was a lot of fun.
Especially playing without their top two playmakers in Wall and Nene, the Wizards tend to pound the rock and in turn slow the flow. Against San Antonio, Washington had 14 assists, one off its season low.
“It’s a learning process," said Wittman. "We are trying to get them to play with movement and passing rather than dribbling. Its habits that we are continuously trying to break.”
Bonner's effectiveness epitomizes the differences between the rosters. Unlike his counterparts in Washington, Bonner joined San Antonio as a plug-and-play guy and given time to adapt. The system existed, his role evident.
"I had Robert Horry who was kind of the guy who played my position with to the Spurs," Bonner said. "Had a year or two to kind of transition, kind of learn under him. He was always giving me tips and coaching me on and off the court."
On the other side, Wittman is in constant tinker mode, looking five, any five players to use.
With its fourth different starting lineup of the season, Washington went toe to toe with San Antonio early, trailing 50-48 with three minutes remaining in the first half. The Spurs closed the second quarter with 10 straight points, extended the run to 20-4 after halftime. The surge "kind of took our will away," Wittman said.
Webster said of the Spurs, "They’re constantly in a rhythm. A veteran team like that they understand. They have guys on that team who have been around this league and have tons of experience who can flip that switch because they know."
"That’s what we want to get to. That starts with work and trust and buying into the system. I think once we do that we’ll be a fun team to watch.”