The San Antonio Spurs have had five days off to regroup after an unimpressive start to their eight-game road trip.
Things get no easier for the Spurs following the break as they must face one of the league’s best home teams when they meet the Washington Wizards on Wednesday.
After winning the opener of this lengthy road trip, the result of a rodeo taking place at the AT&T Center, the Spurs (32-16) have dropped their last two, including Thursday’s 103-87 loss to the Phoenix Suns.
San Antonio had a three-point lead at halftime, but was outscored 31-17 in the fourth quarter. Manu Ginobili led the team with 32 points while Tim Duncan and Tony Parker each added 20, but the Spurs shot 38.6 percent from the field.
Duncan grabbed a season-high 18 rebounds Thursday, but missed seven of his final nine field-goal attempts and finished 6-for-18.
The Spurs have shot a combined 38.2 percent on the road trip.
“January hasn’t been very good for us, so going on a long road trip is either going to pull us together or apart,” Ginobili said. “Hopefully it is together. Usually it is the part of the season where we make the biggest step forward.”
This wasn’t the way San Antonio hoped to start the road trip after a disappointing January. The Spurs went 9-7 last month—their fewest wins in January since the 2003-04 season.
“The patience has to be there,” Duncan said. “We’re so up and down right now. We have to stick with what we have here and find a way to win with the guys we have.”
San Antonio has won 11 of the last 14 matchups against the Wizards (28-19), but has lost three of its last four trips to the Verizon Center. Washington’s 19-5 home record is the best in the Eastern Conference and third-best in the league.
However, the Spurs beat the Wizards 93-80 on Jan. 13 in the first meeting this season. Gilbert Arenas was held to 17 points while going 6-for-20 from the field, fellow All-Star Caron Butler went 5-of-19 for 10 points and the Wizards shot 31 percent overall (27-of-87).
Butler helped make up for another mediocre game by Arenas on Monday, scoring a career-high 38 points in a 118-108 victory over the Seattle SuperSonics. Washington avoided a third straight loss despite Arenas scoring only 16 points and shooting 4-of-14 from the floor.
It was Washington’s first win in three games since forward Antawn Jamison was forced out of action by a sprained left knee. Jamison, averaging 19.3 points and 7.9 rebounds, is expected to miss at least a few more weeks.
“With Antawn being out, everybody has to do a little bit more,” said Brendan Haywood, who had a season-high 20 points and 11 rebounds Monday. “It can’t just be Caron and Gil trying to overcompensate because that’s going to make everybody look bad.”
Even little-used Andray Blatche chipped in, scoring a career-high 14 points and grabbing seven rebounds. He’s averaging 2.3 points this season.
Washington has won its last four games when Arenas, second in the league with 29.4 points per game, has been held below 25 points. The team had been 2-10 when that happened before this streak.
This is the third contest in a four-game homestand for the Wizards, who close the stretch on Sunday against the Portland Trail Blazers.