Aldridge leads Spurs past Wizards 132-119
SAN ANTONIO (AP) – Gregg Popovich values every possession, so an uncontested dunk by the Washington Wizards on the opening play did not sit well.
The Spurs coach quickly rose to call a timeout 16 seconds into the game to forcefully reinforce that communication is critical to defense.
LaMarcus Aldridge had 30 points, nine rebounds and six assists, and the Spurs regrouped to beat the Wizards 132-119 on Sunday night to snap a two-game skid at home.
“We played the last two home games poorly and he wasn’t going to let us slide with those small mistakes,” forward Davis Bertans said of the early timeout.
The Spurs were without leading scorer DeMar DeRozan, but had seven players in double figures. Bertans had a season-high 21 points after missing the previous two games due to personal reasons. Backcourt starters Derrick White and Bryn Forbes added 16 points each.
It was the fifth time the Spurs have scored 130-plus points this season, but it was their early defense that drew Popovich’s ire after the Wizards’ Thomas Bryant had an uncontested dunk shortly after Washington won the opening tip.
“It all starts with the first play,” Forbes said. “That kind of sets the tone for us. I think that’s what he’s trying to do, set that tone and show how serious he was about the first play and the beginning of games. We just made a dumb mistake to start the game off.”
The Spurs would hold the Wizards to 2-for-9 shooting while going on runs of 11-2 and 15-2 in the first quarter and extending their lead to 13 points. But their defense was still absent in the first half.
Washington rallied after each run with crisp ball movement and its final lead came at 69-67 with 1:25 remaining in the first half.
“It was pretty much whoever was going to defend first was going to win and it came out that they defended,” Beal said.
A few timeouts and a few choice words by Popovich helped the Spurs turn things around in the second half.
“He didn’t even cuss that much, that’s a surprise,” Bertans said. “He was just kind of talking to us, explaining the situation and asking, ‘What the hell is going on?’ Just asking us to communicate.”
The Spurs held the Wizards to 17 points on 7-for-24 shooting in the third quarter in regaining a double-digit lead.
San Antonio’s bench also outscored Washington’s 54-27 led by Bertans.
The 6-foot-10 forward from Latvia leads the league in 3-point shooting at 49 percent and continued that hot shooting against the Wizards. Bertans was 5 for 8 on 3-pointers and 8 for 11 overall.
“We had trouble keeping up with Bertans, he was all over the floor,” Washington coach Scott Brooks said. “We couldn’t catch him on his 3s, he kept going by us on his dribbles. He got everything that he wanted.”
Wizards: Washington has not won in San Antonio this century, last defeating the Spurs on the road Dec. 11, 1999. Mitch Richmond scored 31 points in leading the Wizards to a 99-89 victory. … Forward Sam Dekker missed the game with back spasms. … Center Ian Mahinmi sat out with a sprained right thumb. … Satoransky’s previous high was 20 points, which he scored twice with the most recent Jan. 24 against Golden State.
Spurs: DeRozan missed his second straight game and third in two weeks with a left leg injury. DeRozan first sat out with a sore left ankle against Minnesota on Jan. 18 and missed the past two games with a sore left knee. San Antonio is 2-0 without the 10-year veteran. … Pau Gasol made his sixth start of the season, giving him 1,150 career starts to move past Ray Allen for 19th in league history. … Bertans has eight career games with at least five 3-pointers.
Spurs point guard Dejounte Murray appears to be making significant progress in his rehabilitation from right ACL surgery, but will still not return this season.
“Zero,” Popovich said of the chances of possible return. “It’s an ACL. Unless there’s some new deal out there that someone came up with that we don’t know about.”
Murray was injured Oct. 7 while driving to the basket in a preseason game against Houston and underwent surgery Oct. 19. The Spurs said at the time that the third-year guard would miss the entire season and have not altered that prognosis since.
Murray tweeted a video Saturday showing his progress in a recent workout. With no sleeve or brace on his right knee, the 6-foot-5 guard shoots a jumper and then makes a series of quick crossovers before tossing up a runner.
“God is great, back perfecting my craft,” Murray wrote. “Fall down and get back up always!”
Patty Mills became the 13th player in franchise history to play 500 games with the Spurs.
“When I first heard it, I was like, ‘That’s it,’ ” Mills said. “It felt like it was a lot more. I don’t know if it was the amount of times we get yelled at.”
Of the dozen other players, Tim Duncan, David Robinson, George Gervin, Sean Elliott, Avery Johnson, Bruce Bowen and Johnny Moore all had their numbers retired. Manu Ginobili will become the eighth member of the 500-game club to have his jersey retired during a ceremony March 28 and Tony Parker will become the ninth once he retires.
Wizards: At Cleveland on Tuesday night.
Spurs: Host Phoenix on Tuesday night.
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