It was close, but the Wizards lost their 17th straight game to the Spurs in San Antonio, with a 107-105 loss on Friday night.
The Wizards got off to a quick start opening up with an 18-7 lead, thanks to five assists from John Wall and two three-pointers by Bradley Beal in that stretch. The Spurs hurt themselves in the early going with poor free throw shooting, shooting only 4-10 from the stripe in the first quarter. They climbed back into the game by shooting better from the field while the Wizards went cold, cutting the lead down to 2 points early in the second quarter.
However, the Wizards were able to extend their lead back to 9 thanks to some inspired play from their bench, including 6 straight points from Jason Smith. The bench scored 15 first half points.
The Wizards struggled to build upon their lead that they built in the first half due to some sloppy, untimely turnovers. They had a four minute stretch where they went without a field goal before Otto Porter hit a wild circus shot with 6:01 left in the quarter. The bench wasn’t able to maintain their solid play in the 2nd half. Once they were able to come in they struggled to score, and it forced Scott Brooks to go back to his starters earlier than usual in the second half. The combined struggles of the starters and bench allowed the Spurs to claw their way back into the game and take a six point lead into the fourth quarter.
San Antonio built the lead up to 10 before the Wizards started their come back, thanks to some brilliant play from Wall, Marcin Gortat and improved team defense that forced several key stops down the stretch. The Wizards took the lead late thanks to a clutch three-pointer by Beal with 53 seconds left, but the Spurs countered with their own three from Danny Green that came as a result of a Wizards’ defensive break down. After Wall hit a layup to tie the game, Kawhi Leonard ran off a screen and hit a jumper to put the Spurs back up with 6 seconds left. Otto Porter’s runner in the lane fell short as the Wizards dropped their 17th straight game in San Antonio.
Here’s what else we noticed in their close loss to the Spurs:
Gortat provided a much needed inside presence
Marcin Gortat was also solid throughout the night, amassing a double-double before halftime. He was active on the glass, physical with the Spurs big men and provided a majority of his points in the paint, where the Wizards had a surprisingly decisive advantage. He finished with season-highs in points (21) and rebounds (18).
The Wizards struggled to close out quarters
The first two quarters featured endings that reminded us of why #SoWizards exists. In the first quarter, Ginobili hit a late jumper after the Wizards failed to scramble back on defense after a missed jumper from Trey Burke. At the end of the second quarter, an errant pass by Otto Porter led to a Ginobili steal and long 3-pointer. The third quarter almost had a disastrous ending as well, Dewayne Dedmon got an offensive rebound off a missed free throw, but fortunately for the Wizards he missed the shot. In each instance, the Spurs built momentum and they slowly worked their way into this game before ultimately winning it.
Wizards continue to struggle to finish close games
After going into overtime their previous two games, the Wizards had several opportunities to either win this game or to take it to overtime, but they struggled to get stops on the Spurs last three possessions. On the other end, the Wizards are still struggling with end-game possessions. This is the third straight game where they’ve had a chance to tie or win the game on the final possession and they’ve gone 0-3 on those opportunities.