Spurs' defense shuts down Wizards

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

SAN ANTONIO -- When the their offense stalls, the San Antonio Spurs turn to their defense to jump-start it. And after 16 years under coach Gregg Popovich, that plan worked again Wednesday.
Point guard Tony Parker scored 16 points to lead the Spurs to their sixth consecutive win, a 92-79 decision over the Washington Wizards.
"I thought we did a pretty good job defensively," Popovich said. "So all in all the defense was solid. And on offense we got a group in there that moved the basketball really well. Pushed it ahead, moved it, found the open man and got a little run going. That broke the game open."
The Spurs (8-1) had six players provide double-digit points, including center Tiago Splitter, who had 12 points and nine rebounds. Forward Boris Diaw scored 15, forward Kawhi Leonard added 13, and guards Manu Ginobili and Marco Belinelli each had 10 as San Antonio returned home from a two-game, East Coast road trip.
Forward Tim Duncan, who was held out of Monday's game in Philadelphia, returned to the lineup but struggled. He scored two points on 1-of-12 shooting while grabbing eight rebounds.
Forward Martell Webster led Washington (2-6) with 21 points. Guard Bradley Beal added 19, while John Wall had 14 points and eight rebounds.
The Wizards cut a 19-point deficit to three when Webster hit a turnaround three minutes into the third quarter.
San Antonio, which led the whole game, answered with 21-2 run, pushing the lead to 79-59 when Ginobili hit a 3-pointer.
"I was very happy about that," Ginobili said of the Spurs' bench play. "The unit that started the third quarter was beginning to wind down. We talked to Pop (Gregg Popovich) and he asked us to bring it back up, play with more emotion, push the ball and be more aggressive. It really worked out in the end."
Diaw's jumper with 5:29 to go gave the Spurs an 89-64 lead, and the game was well in hand. Diaw hit 7 of 8 shots in 18 minutes off the bench.
"We moved the ball. We had nobody," Wizards coach Randy Whitman said. "We stayed with it, kept fighting, kept playing, tried to continue to move it along and get somebody going. To fight back to get to 60-57 after the start we had was good, and we just threw it down the toilet in 3-4 minutes -- if that."
Washington forced San Antonio into 17 turnovers that led to 18 points, but offensively the Wizards couldn't put it together.
They struggled from the field, shooting 36 percent (33-for-91), but they made a first-half run. They used a 14-3 spurt in the second quarter to cut the Spurs' lead to 48-40, but Leonard scored the final four points of the half to put the Spurs up 52-42.
Leonard started strong, scoring the first eight points. San Antonio dished out eight assists to lead 25-17 after the first quarter.
"They've got a great team," said Wall, who was poked in the right eye at the end of the third quarter and did not see action the rest of the game. "They never get rattled and never get out of their system. That's what a veteran team does. We did a great job defensively until they went on that run."
NOTES: Washington forward Trevor Ariza also sat out the second half due to a strained right hamstring. Ariza, averaging a career-best 16.4 points per game, finished with three points in 17 minutes. ... San Antonio celebrated military appreciation night, with the Spurs wearing camouflage-patterned uniforms. San Antonio, known as Military City U.S.A., has a high population of military personnel and is home to three military installations. The Spurs will wear the uniforms one more time this season. ... Entering the game, the Wizards were averaging 25.0 assists a game, which ranked fourth in the NBA. They were limited to 15 assists Wednesday. ... San Antonio is very stingy when the Wizards visit, holding Washington under 100 points while winning the past 13 contests. The Wizards' last victory in San Antonio was on Dec. 11, 1999. ... A familiar face for San Antonio was on the Wizards' bench. Assistant coach Don Newman spent 2005-12 as an assistant coach with the Spurs.

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