The Spurs came into their Monday night game against the Washington Wizards hoping to end their five-game losing streak, but after a strong first quarter, they were stifled by Wizards’ zone defense and couldn’t overcome a poor second quarter on their way to a 127-106 loss.
Keldon Johnson led the Spurs with 26 points on 12-21 shooting, and Zach Collins had a 16-11 double-double. On the other side, Deni Avdija led seven Wizards in double figures with a season-high 25 points, followed by 21 relatively quiet points from Bradley Beal.
- Jeremy Sochan picked up right where he left off, scoring 15 of his 17 points in the first quarter, which is second best for Spurs rookie in a quarter after Bryn Forbes, who dropped 17 in a quarter against Dallas in 2017, and tied with Boban Marjanovic. (I shouldn’t have to remind anyone when Boban did it.) Sochan continued to show his widening offensive skillset, scoring from the midrange, on driving jump hooks, beyond the arc and of course, one-handed free throws. In fact, he actually missed a free throw, and it’s hard to believe things have gone from it being a relief that he made one to surprising when he misses in just half of season. The Spurs ended the quarter up 36-30.
- With both Romeo Langford and Josh Richardson out, the Spurs’ other two rookies, Malaki Branham and Blake Wesley, got some court time together. It’s obvious that Branham is ahead of the curve at this point, and Wesley, who missed significant time with an MCL injury, could be seen running around on both ends, unsure of where to go or who to cover. Both bring different elements to the game, so it will be interesting to see what happens when they both figure it out.
- The Wizards started the second quarter on 8-0 run to take the lead, and the fun, free-flowing offense that the Spurs displayed in the first quarter was gone as they seemed baffled by Washington’s zone defense. (It didn’t help that they were just 4-15 from three in the half and couldn’t get past Porzingis in the paint, which is what’s needed to bust a zone.) With under two minutes left in the half, they got the dreaded double-digit deficit that the Spurs have yet to conquer this season, now sitting at a baffling 0-35, and the Wizards took a 63-55 lead into the locker room.
- Sometimes, you just want the refs to swallow their whistles. Midway through the second quarter, Keita Bates-Diop missed a contested lay-up but got the rebound and put it right back in. Unfortunately, a late whistle gave Kendrick Nunn the foul on KBD’s first attempt, sending him to the line, where he hit 1-2 free throws. It was one of those situations where the foul was minor enough that the ref was probably waiting to see if he made the shot before calling it, but because he didn’t, the easy putback ended up not counting, and the Spurs traded two points for one.
- Sochan was saddled by foul trouble after his hot first quarter, and his fourth, which came early in third quarter, was just flat out the wrong call. It came on an and-one for Kyle Kuzma where the only contact was a finger touch from Keldon Johnson, but Sochan was a good two feet behind the play and never came close to touching him. It’s unclear if it was an error by the refs or the scorer’s table that the foul was given to Sochan, but it was never changed. (I won’t pick on the refs anymore; Eric Lewis has had a rough week.)
- The Spurs did what they always do, which is remain competitive throughout the second half, but every time they got within six points, the Wizards would respond and stretch the lead back out to double digits. You would like to think that one day they will come back from a double-digit deficit, but until they do, they just can’t afford to have these extended bad stretches like they did in the second quarter when they were outscored 33-19. Being good all game — or at least not having any bad stretches — is a lot to ask from a young team, but it’s their only recipe for success right now.
- The loss also meant the longest losing streak of any kind in the NBA came to an end, and that was the Wizards busting their 22-game losing streak in San Antonio. Their last win came in 1999, meaning this is not only their first win here this century, but it’s also their first win in the AT&T Center. It was bound to happen someday, and this would be the right season for it.
For the Wizards fans’ perspective, visit Bullets Forever.
The Spurs continue their homestand on Wednesday against the Sacramento Kings. Tip-off will be at 7:00 PM CT on Bally Sports San Antonio.