Ah, you blinked, didn’t you?
You missed it then.
What did you miss?
Any semblance of the Wizards being competitive against the Spurs at Verizon Center on Saturday night. San Antonio rolled through Washington and trounced the Wizards like a line of ants across the highway with a 118-94 victory.
It was not even that close.
Before the game, Wizards coach Flip Saunders was asked how his team would adjust to the Spurs new style of play that is dominating the NBA this season. Saunders responded in classic coach-speak:
“We got to worry about us,” Saunders said. “We have enough to worry about us before we worry about San Antonio. So, we are going to do the things that we do and try to do those things as well as we can. We found out that with a lot of our young guys, when we try to adjust to how the other team would play … we may guard pick-and-rolls one way and maybe there should be a different way we should go because of how we are playing but we haven’t been able to adjust that with the young guys. So, we are trying to simplify those things and do them the best that we can.”
The Wizards trailed 72-45 at halftime and San Antonio point guard Tony Parker was eating Washington alive to the tune of 16 points and seven assists. The Spurs stalwart, Tim Duncan, was only needed on the floor for 7:18 in the first half as coach Greg Popovich unleashed his young bench on the Wizards to great affect. San Antonio shot 62.8 percent from the field in racking up more points in a half than they had all of its previous game, a 77-71 loss to the 76ers in Philadelphia.
What could Saunders possibly tell his team after being dominated for 24 minutes by arguably the best team in the NBA?
“You really could’t say much coming in from halftime down by 30, trying to get somebody fired up. Playing catchup against the number one team in the NBA is kind of tough,” guard Nick Young said.
What did the Wizards do well? Andray Blatche almost had a double-double with 16 points and nine rebounds. JaVale McGee had a couple stupendous dunks (and a few equally boneheaded plays) and looked decent early posting up against Tim Duncan. It was evident early that Duncan would not be needed and Spurs coach Greg Popovich sat his star for some important rest as the Spurs (like the Kings earlier in the day at Verizon Center against the Capitals) are in the midst of a 10-game road trip (5-2 thus far through seven). Duncan play 7:18 of the first half and finished the game with just over a quarter’s worth of minutes at 12:10.
“Words can’t totally explain how I feel. Disappointed, embarrassed. I feel bad from a fan standpoint,” Saunders said. “I look down with 8:40 left in the game and our fans are cheering for them to miss free throws, which says something about how your fans are trying the hardest they can for you to just go out and play. Don’t really have an explanation why we didn’t come out with the fire that we needed to.”
Saunders was a little misled about the fan appreciation. Overall, Verizon Center was flat Saturday night, just like its NBA basketball team. The fans were cheering for the Spur to miss both free throws because if he did, they would win a chicken sandwich.
The Spurs were like a machine, geared up and ready to just march through D.C. on their way to their next city (New Jersey on Monday). It is easy to imagine Popovich saying to his squad “just squash them early boys and get out of here.” For San Antonio to come out in such a fashion and blow through the Wizards like they were not even there, it is impressive the singularity of the teams motive. The Wizards were broken early and there was little left but to take the lump and try and not let it carry over to the epic matchup against Cleveland tomorrow night.
“I didn’t see this coming. I don’t think anybody could see this coming,” Saunders said. “How well we have played home and gotten up for big opponents. It was a prime example of a team that plays with substance, not style. They don’t care who scores. They don’t go for the dunk. They miss a dunk, they get back. They don’t care about the assists. It is not important. That is how you want your organization to be and we are working on trying to get there. You can say that it is a process but it is frustrating when you go against that and get steamrolled.”