Saturday February 12, 2011 10:25
By Dave Johnson
CSNWashington.comWIZARDS HOME WIZARDS VIDEO
Washington---There might not be a good time to play the San Antonio Spurs, the team with the NBAs best record (45-9), but Saturday was clearly the wrong time. Smarting from a loss Friday night in Philadelphia, the Spurs eased their pain by dismantling the Wizards 118-94 before a sell-out crowd of 20,435 at Verizon Center.We didnt come out with the intensity that we needed to, said Wizards had coach Flip Saunders. I think part of it is we dont play against tough teams, and this is a tough, physical team, and sometimes were not ready for that. Its disappointing.It unraveled early for the Wizards. The Spurs scored 10 points off 5 Wizards turnovers in the opening seven minutes of the game. The Spurs lead grew to as many 30 points when Gary Neal was fouled as he made a running 15-foot jump shot. Neal made the free throw to give the Spurs a 72-42 lead with 45 seconds left in the first half.The 72 points by the Spurs in the first half not only was their highest scoring half of the season, but eclipsed their point total for the entire game in Fridays 77-71 loss to the 76ers. The loss in Philadelphia was the Spurs worst offensive performance in almost three years and set the stage for a night of recovery against the Wizards.They came out with the idea that they werent going to lose the game and we tried to explain that to our players and show, Saunders said. When youre not ready for it, what they do is they knock you out early and sometimes you cant recover, and thats what happened.Neal, an undrafted rookie from Towson, finished with 16 points and was one of six Spurs players in double figures. Tony Parker and George Hill each scored 18 points to lead the Spurs in scoring. Parker also had 8 assists and 3 steals while only playing 18 minutes.Hill started in place of Manu Ginobili as the Spurs changed their starting lineup for the first time all season. By contrast the Wizards have had 15 different players start a game. Ginobili still played but was only needed for 6 points in eight minutes. Tim Duncan also had 6 points in his brief 12 minutes on the floor.Washington had a night tonight like we had last night in Philly, so it happens, said Spurs head coach Greg Popovich. They were short handed, and they had some guys that were out that certainly would of helped and we took advantage of it. We have about two or three games like this over the course of the year. We had nothing last nightand this happens to every team at some point. The Wizards were still without Josh Howard and were missing Rashard Lewis and Al Thronton because of injuries. Lewis is bothered by sore right knee and Thornton has a dislocated finger on his right hand. Howard has been out since late December with a sore left knee, but is expected to play Sunday night in Cleveland.Along with early turnovers, the Wizards also helped the Spurs by taking quick shots. In the end the Wizards still shot a respectable 46 percent. Andray Blatche and Cartier Martin each scored 16 points to lead the Wizards. Nick Young was saddled by foul trouble and only had 4 points on 2 of 11 shooting from the field.JaVale McGee finished with 14 points, but after grabbing 17 rebounds in the win over the Bucks only had 3 rebounds against the Spurs. McGee was also involved in a play that kind of summed up the game when his missed dunk in the second quarter ricocheted so hard off the rim that it triggered a Spurs fast break.