Spurs, Wizards meet after losses end, extend streaks

Washington Wizards center Marcin Gortat (13) scores in the first half on March 17 at Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C. Photo by Mark Goldman/UPI | License Photo

By Harvey Valentine, The Sports Xchange – UPI

The San Antonio Spurs travel to Washington on Tuesday night looking to bounce back after their six-game winning streak was snapped Sunday.

Meanwhile, the Wizards — losers of three straight — would love to see their streak end.

Washington (40-33) has lost eight of 12 and its latest lackluster effort resulted in a 101-97 home loss to the New York Knicks on Sunday, leaving the sixth-place Wizards one game ahead of the Milwaukee Bucks and 1 1/2 games ahead of the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference.

“We acted like we didn’t give a damn, honestly,” Wizards guard Bradley Bealsaid. “We thought that we could just show up and play because they don’t have anything to play for. We just thought it was going to be a cakewalk and they just smacked us in the mouth.”

Beal led the Wizards with 14 points but went 5 of 17 from the field. As a team, the Wizards were just 37 of 87 from the floor, including 6 of 19 from 3-point range.

Plagued by slow starts of late, Washington held New York to 21 first-quarter points but scored only 19. The Wizards managed 32 points in the second quarter but allowed an astounding 42.

“This just can’t happen,” Wizards guard Tomas Satoransky said. “The second quarter basically gave them the push, gave them the confidence to just battle until the end.”

Washington point guard John Wall missed his 25th game after left knee surgery, and the team has gone 14-11 in his absence. He practiced again Monday and his return could be close.

“To be honest, I have no idea,” Wall told reporters of his return date after Monday’s practice. “I don’t know how many practices I have to go through with contact, so whenever I’ll be able to talk to the doctors and the trainers again and if this is the last one or I have to do one more then it will kind of sum up when I’ll be able to play.”

After a 6-0 homestand, the Spurs (43-31) traveled to Milwaukee on Sunday and lost 105-103 to the Bucks.

Tied with the Bucks at halftime, the Spurs were outscored 41-28 in the third quarter. The 41 points matched the most San Antonio has given up in a quarter this season.

LaMarcus Aldridge had 34 points and Pau Gasol added 22 points and 13 rebounds for San Antonio, which is sixth in the Western Conference but only a few games ahead of ninth-place Denver.

“There is a sense of urgency,” Spurs forward Kyle Anderson told the San Antonio Express-News. “Everyone is going to come after us. These last few games are very similar to playoff games.”

After playing Washington, San Antonio hosts Oklahoma City and first-place Houston before traveling to Los Angeles to face the Clippers and Lakers.

Aldridge was named the Western Conference Player of the Week after averaging 34.8 points, 9.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2.0 blocks in 34.8 minutes for games played March 19-25. He shot 59.6 percent (56 of 94) from the field and 86.7 percent (26 of 30) from the foul line.

Last Wednesday, Aldridge had 27 points and nine rebounds as San Antonio defeated visiting Washington 98-90. Aldridge scored nine points during a 23-9 San Antonio run in the third quarter.

Kyle Anderson added 16 points for San Antonio and Dejounte Murray had 10 rebounds.

Beal and Kelly Oubre Jr. each had 21 points to lead the Wizards, who will be looking to avenge last week’s loss.

“Every game is huge from here on,” Gasol told the Express-News. “We have to be prepared for Washington.”