The league’s 22nd (Spurs) and 30th (Wizards) ranked defensive teams supplied us with their second high scoring affair in a month, and the Spurs continued a disturbing inability to get stops in the second half. Bradley Beal (33 points), Ish Smith (21 points and 4 rebounds), and Davis Bertans (21 points and 5 rebounds) led seven Wizards in double figures on a night where they shot well over 50% from the field and the 3-point line (18 makes). San Antonio was led by DeMar DeRozan (31 points, 5 assists, and 4 rebounds), Bryn Forbes (19 points and 7 assists), and Rudy Gay (18 points and 5 rebounds) and now owns the longest losing streak in franchise history in 22 years.
- Sean Elliott pointed out before tipoff “you gotta make your own energy when you come into a place.” The Spurs responded by forcing a turnover on the first Washington possession.
- Bryn Forbes and Patty Mills were paired together in the starting lineup tonight with the absence of Derrick White because of a sore heel. The optimal scenario for their playing together would involve them pestering the Wizards’ guards, while kicking the ball to each other on the perimeter for open shots — which is just what happened throughout the first quarter.
- This was also Jakob Poeltl’s first start of the season and he found a cutting Aldridge for a pretty layup to open up San Antonio’s scoring. Poeltl excels at occupying the space down the middle of the floor on fast breaks and as a pick-and-roll action.
- DeMar DeRozan handled the majority of the lead guard duties early on, which freed him up to drive and create off the dribble. The Wizards announcers compared guard Jordan McRae favorably to DeMar.
- Former San Antonio wing Davis Bertans started 8-for-8 from the field for the season against his old team before missing an open corner-3. This confident version of Bertans would’ve helped the Spurs greatly in the last few years of his tenure. <silent crying noises>
- Ish Smith continued the long line of unheralded opponents to have success against San Antonio and hit on his first five shots. Smith poured in another dozen in the fourth to cement the outcome.
- Washington hosted Mental Health Awareness Night, and it is important to recognize how much active players like DeRozan and Kevin Love and retired members like Keyon Dooling and Metta World Peace have aided the dialogue about mental wellness. The NBA is way ahead of the other leagues in this area.
- The sequence by Patty in the third, when he has a driving layup in the paint, followed by a Forbes steal for a Mills fast-break layup, and an offensive rebound into an open corner three, is the closest thing the current Spurs version has had to a “Manu-like” impact since White’s 36 explosion against Denver in last year’s playoffs.
- DeMarre Carroll logged some meaningful playing time late in the first half. (This would be a change-of-pace unit down the line that could wreak defensive havoc while looking folically glamorous? Carroll, Lonnie Walker IV, Patty Mills, White, and Dejounte Murray.)
- Speaking of Murray, he is called for a surprisingly high number of offensive fouls.
- The Spurs did not start slow this game. Their aggressiveness on the offensive end drew two fouls each on Wizard rookie Rui Hachimura, Troy Brown, and Beal - netted ten free throw attempts. Both teams shot well throughout the stanza and the Spurs waded it ahead 38-35. In the second frame, Rudy Gay asserted himself on the offensive end with a variety of beautiful makes and this resulted in San Antonio going into the break with an encouraging six point lead.
- Beal started to heat up from all over the court, and the Wizards regained the lead midway through the third. The Wizards read the scouting report and beat San Antonio down the court time and tine again during a 22-3 run. After Washington pushed the lead to nine, Murray displayed the two-way athleticism and fervror expected of him via drives to the rim while disrupting the Wizards’ ball-handlers. San Antonio mercifully left the third period down only 98-101 as Washington stayed hot from deep.
- Gay followed a fadeaway jumper with a pair of nifty feeds to Poeltl on back to back buckets. However, Beal and Bertans continued their white-hot shooting to extend the Washington lead. It only seemed that early every Spurs basket in the quarter was followed by a bevy of Wizards galloping down to the other end to match the score. Murray netted double digits in the quarter to stay in striking distance, yet the home team continued their 3-point barrage. Forbes converted two straight threes late, the Spurs forced an out-of-bounds turnover on Hachimura, and Mills knocked the ball out off Beal in the final minute to add some suspense to the outcome. An emphatic Gay dunk to cut the lead to two; but that was as close as it got down the stretch.
For the Wizards fans’ perspective, visit Bullets Forever.
The Spurs’ road trip continues Friday evening with Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and the Philadelphia 76ers at 7:00 PM CT.