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San Antonio vs. Washington, Final Score: Spurs streak halted, overcome by pesky Wizards, 113-118

San Antonio salvaged a difficult start to the second half, but faded very late after Washington’s better offensive execution in the fourth quarter

NBA: Washington Wizards at San Antonio Spurs
Devin Vassell and Victor Wembanyama’s solid scoring performances were not enough to fend off an energized Wizards team tonight
Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

San Antonio (10-37) proved unable to continue its recent spate of strong home peformances in a come-from-ahead loss against Washington (9-37). Despite a quiet first half by Jordan Poole, the Wizards were able to shave double-digit deficits on several occasions to keep the Spurs constantly on edge. Washington then maintained its composure down the stretch, in a fourth quarter San Antonio would like to forget, behind its veterans to finally take the lead for good with only minutes to spare. Both benches contributed significantly throughout with Washington netting 44 and San Antonio getting 49 from theirs.

San Antonio’s duo of Victor Wembanyama (22 points, 11 rebounds, 3 blocks, 4 turnovers) and Devin Vassell (24 points and 5 rebounds) kept their teammates afloat during the several periods of dried-up offense throughout. Cedi Osman (20 points) and Keldon Johnson (14 points and 5 rebounds) supplied sufficient fuel to help maintain a Spurs’ lead for over three periods until the unceremonious last moments.

Gafford (16 points and 13 rebounds), Kyle Kuzma (18 points, 11 rebounds, and 5 assists), and Tyus Jones (15 points and 9 assists) led the stirring comeback for Washington, who won their second straight game. Both benches contributed significantly throughout with Washington netting 47 and San Antonio getting 51 from theirs.

It wasn’t Kuzma and Poole that started the scoring for Washington - it was surprisingly Daniel Gafford. Wembanyama continued his recent run of strong performances with 10 early points. After the rookie sat, San Antonio received some strong bench support from Blake Wesley, Johnson, and Osman, which seemed to energize the home team and crowd immensely. The Spurs surged out to a 35-25 lead.

Washington received a powerful boost from its bench, particularly Marvin Bagley, Jr. and rookie Bilal Coulilaby at the start of the second quarter to make San Antonio uncomfortable. The game became bogged down by numerous squandered possessions and the Wizards were able to nab the lead late in the half. A sloppy half resulted in nearly 20 turnovers between the combatants. While it looked like the Wizards seemed destined to grab the lead, Vassell steadied the Spurs with his offense and helped them stay ahead 58-54 at the half.

In an exciting third period characterized by spurts of scoring, Washington managed to stay a threat to take the lead by drawing numerous foul calls throughout the frame. Bagley, Jr., in particular, slowed the game pace down heavily with several dubious calls going in his favor. It again fell to the Spurs’ high performing trio of Jones (Tre), Wembanyama, and Vassell to keep them afloat after the Wizards drew San Antonio into the foul bonus.

Observations

  • The Tyus vs. Tre matchup we needed to determine whether San Antonio has the best brother! (And unfortunately it looked like Tyus shined when it mattered)
  • Whomever’s child was responsible for screaming ‘DEFENSE’ (loudly heard on the broadcast) deserves all the snacks (and late sleepy time).
  • Vassell’s and Johnson’s post-game quotes were really heartening to hear from Saturday night’s win over the Wolves.
  • Coulibaly has a very nice future in the league.
  • Victor Ease: An early pass from Vassell looked like it wouid elude its target, but Wembanyama managed to re-direct it with his right hand right into the hoop! Remember when fans and writers were imploring his teammates to toss it up high to him? This is probably what they meant.
  • If it seemed like the main go-to play for Washington in the first half was the lob, you are right!
  • Sequence of the Game - First Half: Late in the first period, Johnson muscled a floater home. Then Wesley swiped away the inbound pass from an unsuspecting Poole, and Johnson took the loose ball - finding Wesley in the deep corner for an enthralling three.
  • Sequence of the Game - Second Half: Late in the third quarter, Wesley again disrupted a Wizards possession with a steal, found Dominick Barlow near the key, who slung it out to a waiting Osman for a key field goal.
  • WEMBY Sequence of the Game: Late in the fourth, after Osman missed a corner three, Wembanyama swiped a sure rebound headed for Coulibaly, and found a cutting Osman for a crucial layup
  • Devin’s Deeds: The pick-and-roll action between he and Wembanyama yielded some nice scoring early on.
  • “Volver, Volver” needs to be the end of third quarter song, doesn’t it?
  • Both teams started the game with uneven and disorienting sequences with many front-rimmed Spurs shots. Gafford used his length and motor to slam home buckets and keeping possessions alive. Wembanyama asserted himself from the get-go to get into double-digits. Sloppy play transitioned into something of a track meet and a Sochan dunk in transition put San Antonio up three. Upon his entry, Wesley blitzed several surprised Wizards with a blur of pressure, steals, and buckets. The Spurs left the frame up ten.
  • An Osman three pushed San Antonio’s advantage to 14 to start the second. Bagley, Jr. willed home a couple of and-1’s, and a Landry Shamet three briefly brought the Wizards within two. Wembanyama recorded a ‘stock’ (steal / block) on a clumsy Gafford attempt. Vassell impressively scored a bucket at one end and blocked a Jones floater at the other. Poole bricked four of his first five attempts and committed a shot clock violation - oof. Kuzma’s turnaround drew Washington to within four heading into the break.
  • Despite Julian Champagnie being the recipient of a Vassell kickout for his first three, the Wizards started fast in the third to tie things at 61. Jones (Tre) converted two straight heady lay-ups and kickstarted a transition opportunity which netted Vassell an and-1. As Sean Elliott compared Gafford to Alonzo Mourning in stature and gait, Wembanyama, resembling a prime Tim Duncan, lured him into a foul on the left block. He then re-directed a missile from Jeremy Sochan over his head to a waiting Jones (Tre) for a layup. The teams traded buckets liberally over the bulk of the next minutes until San Antonio’s bench amped up the pressure to bump the lead to ten momentarily. Doug McDermott’s three helped San Antonio enter the fourth up 93-87.
  • After a handful of Spurs’ misses to begin the fourth quarter, Wembanyama tipped home a miss and knocked down a 14-footer. Jones (Tre) was crucial in drawing offensive fouls from Corey Kispert and Bagley Jr. Barlow fouled out with over eight minutes remaining. Sochan smartly looked off two defenders to find Johnson for an open three, but a Kuzma floater drew Washington within three. With a chance to tie the game, Poole fumbled the ball out of bounds, but hit a game-tying three after.
  • After an Osman lay-up, Coulibaly nailed a corner three. After a Wembanyama bankshot, Jones (Tyus) swished a pull-up. Kuzma’s layup was matched a Vassell jumper. After yet another Jones (Tyus) field goal, Vassell was whistled for an offensive foul. Gafford snatched a loose ball to throw home a thunderous dunk to finish off the shell-shocked Spurs.

For the Wizards fan’s perspective, please visit Bullets Forever.

Continuing its homestand, San Antonio takes on Paolo Banchero and the resurgent Orlando Magic Wednesday night at 7:00 PM CDT.