Spurs, Wizards square off after big wins

Field Level Media

November 29, 2021 at 12:48 am.

The San Antonio Spurs will carry some much-needed momentum from a gritty win onto the court when they host the surprising Washington Wizards on Monday night.

The Spurs will play the third game in a four-game homestand after outlasting Boston 96-88 on Friday to snap a six-game losing streak. Dejounte Murray scored 29 points — eight during a decisive late run — and grabbed 11 rebounds in the win, which came down to the final minutes after San Antonio blew a 24-point advantage and surrendered the lead to the Celtics in the fourth quarter.

“It’s a group that’s always working,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said after the victory. “The grit that they showed, the aggressiveness and the desire were off the charts. They took a big hit. Boston did great coming back and taking the lead. We got a little discombobulated, but we hung tough, and they kept playing for the whole 48 (minutes).”

Derrick White and Keldon Johnson added 17 points each for the Spurs while Tre Jones hit for 12 and Lonnie Walker IV 10 in the win. Johnson added 14 rebounds, and Jakob Poeltl had 12 rebounds.

The Spurs improved to 4-1 this season in games in which they’ve held opponents to less than 100 points.

Despite the win, San Antonio is still off to its worst start after 18 games since 1996. Murray said the team is learning and will continue to get better.

“Every practice, every game, every film session is a learning session for this team,” Murray said. “It’s our first season really starting a whole new thing. Pop and the rest of the organization are used to having a bunch of veteran guys who have been here a long time. Everything is just a learning session. We just got to continue to stay together and just grow.”

The Wizards head to the Alamo City after a 120-114 win in Dallas on Saturday in the second game of a road back-to-back. Washington got 26 points from Bradley Beal and 22 from Kyle Kuzma, 10 of those in the fourth quarter.

“We got into a little shootout — that’s what Dallas wants you to do,” Kuzma said. “We did a great job of switching our coverages up a little bit and just dialing into the attention to detail and what we wanted to do in their high pick-and-roll.”

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope added 16 points for Washington, and Daniel Gafford recorded the first double-double of his career, scoring 14 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Raul Neto and Montrezl Harrell tallied 13 and 11 points, respectively, in the victory.

The Wizards scored 60 of their 120 points in the paint, tied for their second-most of the season, and allowed just 46 on the other end.

“I trust my teammates,” Beal said. “I trust them to make the right play, and it means the world to me not having to make every one. I have guys I can throw the ball to and then go get a shot, go create a play for somebody else.”

The Wizards played without Spencer Dinwiddie, who was held out as part of his right-knee injury maintenance plan put in place at the start of the season.

The Spurs have won 21 straight games in the Alamo City against the Wizards, Washington’s longest active road losing streak.

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