Watching his first game with the San Antonio Spurs on Friday night, Gooden said he can get used to this kind of winning.
Tony Parker scored 19 points, Michael Finley had 12 and the Spurs treated Gooden to a dominant performance in a 100-78 victory over the Washington Wizards while San Antonio’s newest power forward sat on the bench in street clothes.
Signed by the Spurs this week, Gooden continued resting the nagging groin injury that has limited him to just two games since Jan. 19. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said it could be as long as another week before Gooden makes his debut.
“I’m out of the wild,” said Gooden, who bought out his contract in Sacramento earlier this week. “When Timmy D has the numbers he had tonight and you still win, that says something about your team.”
Caron Butler’s sore hamstring kept him benched a third straight game for the injury-ravaged Wizards, who officially lost DeShawn Stevenson for the year Friday when he underwent surgery to repair a herniated disc.
The Eastern Conference’s most hapless team—Washington’s 14 wins are just one better than NBA-worst Sacramento—was crushed by San Antonio for the second time in two weeks after losing 98-67 on Feb. 21.
“Where did this one get away? It got away when we first started playing,” Jamison said. “When you play an elite team like San Antonio, you’ve got to make it difficult for them.”
Ime Udoka scored 13 points and reserve George Hill had 12 for San Antonio. The Spurs are more likely to have their hands full Sunday against Phoenix, and Thursday when they host the Los Angeles Lakers in the final meeting of the West’s top two teams.
Earlier in the day, Wizards coach Ed Tapscott said he pointed out the Spurs’ four championship banners to his team during shootaround as inspiration. And it might have worked to keep Washington close for virtually the entire first half.
Then Finley hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer, pushing San Antonio’s lead to 12 at halftime, and it ballooned from there. The Spurs shot 62 percent in the third to extend their lead to 79-53 behind 15 points from Parker.
The Spurs got the blowout victory after falling Wednesday in Dallas, which had been their third loss in four games.
“We’re still disappointed in the way we played the last game,” Spurs guard Roger Mason said. “We wanted to come out strong and get the win.”
Cheering from the bench was Gooden, who said he’s still getting acclimated to the Spurs’ system and getting completely healthy. He said it was “smart” that the Spurs are not rushing him out too soon.
“I feel a lot better than I did last week, and that’s a great sign,” Gooden said.
Gooden has averaged 13.1 points and 8.7 rebounds this season in 32 games, all but one of which came in Chicago. The Bulls traded Gooden to the Kings in a six-player deal last month, but Gooden played only one game with Sacramento.
The Spurs had about $1.5 million remaining in their midlevel exception to offer Gooden. Sacramento agreed to an undisclosed buyout of Gooden’s $7.1 million salary in the final season of his contract.
Tapscott doesn’t expect Butler’s tight left hamstring to leave Washington without its second-leading scorer much longer. The Wizards play at Dallas on Saturday and at Minnesota on Monday before returning home from a four-game road swing.
Washington announced that Stevenson will start rehab in two weeks and is expected to begin playing basketball again in three to four months. Bothered much of the season by lower back pain, Stevenson averaged 6.6 points and 3.1 assists in 32 games.
Gooden has marquee company on San Antonio’s bench. Popovich said F Manu Ginobili is still rehabbing his injured ankle on a bike and is still not practicing. Ginobili, who hasn’t played in 10 games, is expected to be out at least another week. …Spurs G Jacque Vaughn, who has played in just 22 games this season, had seven points in about 13 minutes.