Can the Wizards at least get a point out of that game? Maybe the NHL-style overtime loss boost? Please?
I really don't know where to start otherwise. That one sucks to lose. The first half was so beautiful, the first overtime comeback so thrilling. But in the end, the Spurs are the Spurs, and they never get rattled. Even without the great Tim Duncan for most of the second overtime, the Spurs out-executed the Wizards and came away with a 125-118 win.
How we even got there was a miracle. The Wizards were down six without much time left and kept extending the game with twos. Then, this happened.
When John Wall made that improbable play to tie the game, it looked like the seal would be lifted. Momentum, if you believe such a thing, was on the Wizards' side, especially when Tim Duncan fouled out on a ticky-tack call on a rebound.
Sadly, momentum means diddly squat when faced off against the formidable enemy known as fatigue. The Wizards had nothing left in that second OT, and it showed in their slow offensive sets and forced jumpers that never had a chance. Wall had no business flinging the two jumpers he did that came nowhere close to going in, and his drive for a floater later in the OT seemed more like a cry for help. Meanwhile, the Spurs kept plugging away, finally taking commanding control with their patented Baseline Hammer set that got Danny Green an open three and a five-point lead.
Instead of ending one of the league's most embarrassing losing streaks (the Wizards haven't defeated the Spurs since November of 2005), the Wizards lost to a shorthanded team missing it's top four players by the end. This is no moral victory.
It's especially no moral victory because of how it began. I don't know if I've ever had more fun watching this team that I did seeing that first half. The ball was moving, shots were falling and the defense swarmed. Wall helped shut down Tony Parker, and the rest of the Wizards rarely gave the Spurs anything easy. San Antonio, in turn, responded by turning it over, fueling the Wizards' fast break. And when they did get in the half court, Wall's feathery touch from the perimeter bailed Washington out. It was 62-48 at halftime and it felt like a much bigger lead.
But the third quarter showed why the Spurs are the Spurs. Fighting without Parker, who left the game with a back injury, the unheralded backcourt duo of Nando de Colo and Cory Joseph went at the Wizards offensively. Duncan suddenly couldn't miss, and I checked my apartment to make sure I didn't sneak into a time machine by accident. Meanwhile, Boris Diaw entered the game and effectively took Nene out of it, providing the spacing the Spurs needed to get their offense humming again.
It was gutcheck time. Time to respond to a run like a good team.
For a while, the Wizards did. Their lockdown defense returned, mostly holding the Spurs down both with and without Duncan, with the exception of a couple Danny Green threes that made me nervous. The offense trudged along, but a couple timely Wall/Nene pick and rolls help keep the Spurs at bay. When Trevor Ariza dunked after a backcut and a beautiful pass to put the Wizards up five with under a minute and a half remaining, things looked comfortable.
But this is the Spurs. Like cockroaches, they never go away, and ultimately, it only took less than half a minute for the Wizards' lead to be erased. First, Gregg Popovich drew up a brilliant after-timeout play to get Patty Mills a wide-open three in about 0.348343980403 seconds. Then, after Nene missed trying to throw one down, the Wizards looked like they had a steal ... until the ball trickled to Duncan, who hit the game-tying floater.
The Spurs nearly finished things off in regulation from there. The Wizards badly botched their attempt to get the go-ahead hoop, with Wall getting embarrassed by Danny Green on a shot-clock violation. It looked like the Wizards would lose in a #SoWizards fashion, especially when Marcin Gortat's heady tap-out on a rebound somehow trickled to Mills with an open lane. But Mills instead pulled up and missed a jumper, and Tiago Splitter's tip fell off. Sorry in advance to my next-door neighbors. I will accept the noise violation.
The Spurs really should have won in the first OT and would have if not for Wall's heroics. In the end, it was only a matter of time.
This one's frustrating, no doubt. San Antonio was missing its stars, and the Wizards still couldn't finish the game off when they had it under their control. Poise, execution, discipline: All things the Wizards exhibited during this recent run, but all things that let them down tonight. Yet another reminder that there's still a looong way to go.
- I really hope Bradley Beal's omission from overtime was on account of hitting his 34-minute limit and not because of any serious hand or finger injury.
- Not the best game for Nene. He looked too slow against San Antonio's small lineups and too small against the Spurs' big ones.
- I liked what I saw from Kevin Seraphin in the first half, but not the second. I like what I saw from Trevor Booker all game. Maybe he should have been given a chance to close it out.
- Hard to complain too much about Wall when he temporarily saved the game, but the Spurs really shut him down in the fourth quarter. He has to find a way to stay poised even when teams put length like Danny Green on him.