Wizards-Spurs Preview

The Associated Press

Since wrapping up one of the best road trips in NBA history, the San Antonio Spurs have struggled at the AT&T Center.

A game against the Washington Wizards should help, especially with Tony Parker back on the court.

Coming off a disappointing loss without Parker, the Southwest Division-leading Spurs look to continue their dominance over the Wizards on Monday night.

San Antonio (26-13) went 8-1 on a trip leading into the All-Star break establishing an NBA record for wins on a nine-game trip, but it has dropped three of five upon its return. Its two wins have come over Charlotte, owner of the league's worst record, and slumping New York.

Parker had 32 points in Wednesday's 118-105 win over the Knicks, but played through a strained right quadriceps and a bothersome right calf. Gregg Popovich decided to give Parker the night off Friday against the Los Angeles Clippers, and Chris Paul and company took advantage.

Paul had 36 points and the Clippers shot 51.2 percent and made 14 of 27 3-pointers in handing the Spurs a 120-108 loss.

"We always say we're a defensive team, but there was just no way (Friday),'' said Manu Ginobili, who had a team-best 22 points on 6-of-10 shooting in his third game back from a strained stomach muscle. "They beat us in every aspect.''

Popovich conceded that Parker could've played if needed, but he chose to give him some extra time off. The four-time All-Star, who averages team highs of 19.5 points and 7.9 assists, will return Monday for the Spurs, who conclude a seven-game homestand Wednesday against Orlando before hitting the road for a difficult two-game trip versus Oklahoma City and Dallas.

"We want to take care of home court and we've given some games away," said Parker, who combined for 38 points and 22 assists in last season's two wins over the Wizards. "It would be nice to finish strong."

San Antonio should be able to bounce back against Washington (9-30), which has lost four straight road games and is 3-14 away from the nation's capital.

The Spurs have won 11 straight over the Wizards by an average of 17.7 points since a 110-95 loss in Washington on Nov. 12, 2005. They've also won the last 11 meetings in San Antonio since a 99-89 loss Dec. 11, 1999.

Washington arrives in San Antonio to open a season-high six-game road trip after losing to Portland 110-99 on Saturday. The Wizards were coming off an encouraging 106-101 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday and were trying to win back-to-back games for just the second time this season. Their defense, however, failed to slow the Trail Blazers, who shot 51.3 percent.

"We couldn't get stops together when we needed to,'' Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. "We've got to become more committed defensively as a group. You've got to be able in that fourth quarter to put two, three, four stops in a row together to get over that hump.''

Washington has lost eight of 10, allowing an average of 110.8 points in those defeats.

John Wall, who averages a team-best 17.4 points, scored 25 Saturday after finishing with four points on 1-of-8 shooting against the Lakers. As a rookie last season, Wall combined for 12 points on 5-of-18 shooting in the games versus San Antonio.

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