While the San Antonio Spurs had a 10-game winning streak snapped in their last game, coach Gregg Popovich thinks their defense has been a problem for a while now.
The league-best Spurs look to bounce back from their worst loss of the season Sunday night when they try for their 11th straight home win over the Washington Wizards, who will be without the suspended Andray Blatche(notes) and JaVale McGee(notes) for this contest.
San Antonio (25-4) gave up a season-high point total in a 123-101 loss at Orlando on Thursday. It was the fifth straight game the team allowed at least 100 points after opponents reached the century mark in only seven of the previous 24 games.
“If we want to take advantage of that good record, we better get our acts together at the defensive end,” Popovich told the Spurs’ official website. “Otherwise we’ve squandered what the basketball gods have given to us.”
Popovich’s club let Orlando shoot 59.5 percent, the highest mark the Spurs have allowed since Tim Duncan’s(notes) arrival in 1997-98. The loss came a night after they needed a fourth-quarter rally at home to post a 109-103 win over a Denver team missing Carmelo Anthony(notes).
Defense certainly hasn’t been an issue against the Wizards. They’ve held Washington to an average of 78.4 points in the last five meetings and have won the last nine overall. The Wizards haven’t won in San Antonio since a 99-89 victory Dec. 11, 1999, losing their last 10 visits while averaging 82.7 points.
Washington (7-20) is the NBA’s only team without a road win, going 0-13, and is coming off its lowest-scoring game of the season - an 87-80 loss to Chicago on Wednesday.
That all could lead to another easy night for Duncan, who has averaged fewer than 30 minutes in the last seven meetings because San Antonio won most of them handily. He’s averaged just 16.4 points and 7.9 rebounds in that span.
Duncan, whose playing time is being monitored this season, sat out the entire fourth quarter Thursday along with Tony Parker(notes) and Manu Ginobili(notes) as Popovich emptied the bench in the blowout loss. Duncan finished with 12 points and six rebounds.
He’ll try to help the Spurs bounce back as they prepare for a tough two-game stretch next week. They’ll play their two closest challengers for the Western Conference lead, hosting the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday and visiting Dallas on Thursday.
The Wizards, who have lost eight of nine, will not have Blatche or McGee as they’ll serve a one-game suspension for conduct detrimental to the team.
The Washington Post reported on its website Saturday that the pair were involved in an altercation outside an area club early Friday. The newspaper also reported that two league sources said the players cursed at each other and exchanged punches, and another source said police were called to break up the fight.
“After further investigation … we concluded that Andray and JaVale conducted themselves in an unprofessional manner,” Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld said Saturday.
Top overall draft pick John Wall(notes) will sit out a sixth straight game with a bruised knee. He’s missed 12 of the Wizards’ 27 games so far, but still leads the team with 8.9 assists to go with 16.7 points per game.