The San Antonio Spurs have answered a promising 4-1 start with eight losses in nine games, including six in a row to mark their longest slide since 2011.
The Spurs aim to get back on track and complete a sweep of the Washington Wizards for the second straight season on Wednesday when they continue their four-game road trip in the nation’s capital.
“When adversity hits, you can’t run from it, you can’t shy away from it, you can’t let it get you down,” DeMar DeRozan said after scoring a season-high 36 points in a 117-110 loss to Dallas on Monday.
“Try to channel that energy and put it in the right place so we can understand why we got beat.”
San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich provided an answer for DeRozan, although his response covered the team’s season-long troubles as opposed to just Monday’s setback.
“Well, we’re doing two things consistently,” Popovich said. “We’re offering up 10-15 points a game to start and getting in a hole. And then we’re doing a great job of digging ourselves out and getting back into games.
“If we can cut out the former, maybe we can get back on the winning track.”
While the Spurs fell behind following the opening tip and failed to prevent Luka Doncic from recording his NBA-best sixth triple-double on Monday, San Antonio has gotten the better of the Wizards in the last three encounters.
DeRozan capped a 26-point performance by making the game-winning basket with 5.5 seconds moments of the Spurs’ 124-122 victory on Oct. 26.
Washington’s Bradley Beal collected 25 points and 11 assists in that contest and former Spur Davis Bertans drained all five of his 3-point attempts to finish with a season-high 23 points.
Beal has stepped up his game of late, answering back-to-back 44-point performances by highlighting a 34-point effort with five 3-pointers in the Wizards’ 125-121 loss at Orlando on Sunday.
While Washington overcame an 0-for-7 start from 3-point range to make 10 of its last 15 attempts from beyond the arc, its generous play on the defensive end reared its ugly head to send the club to its fourth loss in five games.
“We are (11 games into the season) now so we have to dial back the amount of excuses we have,” the 26-year-old Beal said. “We compete hard enough to win every game. We are top five on offense, so we know that’s not the problem. We just have to get stops.”
The Wizards, who are hemorrhaging points to the tune of 120.1 points per game, allowed 42 points in the paint to the Magic and were outrebounded 52-38.
“We can’t keep coming back to the drawing board and saying, ‘OK, we’ve got this now,'” Washington coach Scott Brooks said. “It’s about communicating. We’re playing with great effort. I’m proud of the guys. This is what we do. We compete. We lay everything out there.”
While Beal is the team’s primary scorer, the Wizards received another strong performance from their bench players. C.J. Miles (21), Bertans (15) and Mortiz Wagner (12) combined to score 48 of the team’s 52 points off the bench on Sunday.
Washington will hope for more of the same from Beal and the bench — and a few more defensive stops — on Wednesday when it opens a three-game homestand.
–Field Level Media