The San Antonio Spurs are not playing like NBA champions.
The Spurs look to improve upon their mediocre start to the season as they visit MCI Center to face the Washington Wizards.
San Antonio lost for the third time in five games on Friday night, falling 100-96 to a Philadelphia team that was missing its entire starting frontcourt.
With just six players returning from last season’s team, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich knew a slow start was possible. He knows it’s only a matter of time before things start to turn around.
“This is a brand-new basketball team,” Popovich said. “It’s hard to fault a group that’s learning on the fly and doing as many good things as they are, (but) we’re getting better all the time.”
The Spurs fell to 1-3 on the road with Friday’s loss.
Washington is also having a rough start to the season, dropping three straight games, including a 105-101 overtime loss at Miami on Friday night.
Stackhouse’s absence has allowed rookie forward Jarvis Hayes to start, and he has responded with 22, 20 and 17 points in his last three games.
Stackhouse, last season’s leading scorer (21.5 points per game) and one of the few veterans on the roster, isn’t expected back until December at the earliest.
STANDINGS (through Nov. 13): Spurs - 5th place (tied), 2 GB, Midwest Division. Wizards - 4th place, 1 1/2 GB, Atlantic Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Spurs - Duncan, 18.8 ppg and 12.2 rpg; Ginobili, 4.8 apg. Wizards - Arenas, 20.0 ppg and 6.4 apg; Etan Thomas, 8.0 rpg.
2002-03 SEASON SERIES: Tied, 1-1.
LAST MEETING: Dec. 21, 2002; Wizards, 105-103. At Washington, the Wizards overcame Duncan’s game-high 35 points and 13 rebounds.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Spurs - 1-3 on the road; Wizards - 2-2 at home.
INJURIES: Spurs - None. Wizards - G Mitchell Butler (knee); G Stackhouse (knee).