Spurs-Wizards Preview

BY foxsports • November 3, 2015

Faces have changed - some a bit more wrinkled - as the aging core of the San Antonio Spurs meshes with a wave of emerging talent trying to sustain their winning tradition.

So far, so good - even if they aren't close to the cohesive unit they'd like to be.

San Antonio looks to extend its winning streak to four while beating the host Washington Wizards for the 18th time in 19 meetings Wednesday night.

Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili have helped the Spurs (3-1) win four championships since Ginobili's rookie year in 2002-03 after Duncan won his first with coach Gregg Popovich in 1999.

Parker is the youngest at 33 years old, and the club's payroll is now dominated by newcomer LaMarcus Aldridge and 24-year-old budding star Kawhi Leonard. Roles have changed as well, with Leonard scoring a team-high 21.3 points per game and Aldridge manning the primary post and mid-range games Duncan perfected during his younger years.

The shift has caused some confusion, even if the Spurs continue to win. Duncan scored 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in 35-plus minutes of Monday's 94-84 win at New York - nearly 10 more than he played in last Wednesday's season-opening loss to Oklahoma City.

Leonard finished with 18 points and 14 boards, and Aldridge scored 19 while hitting 8 of 15 from the field.

"I'm still trying to figure that out," Duncan said when asked of his role after becoming the winningest player in Spurs history. "I'm not really sure what it is yet, but I'm trying to figure it out."

Ginobili scored seven points in 17 minutes off the bench Monday, but he wasn't even supposed to play. He convinced Popovich and the assistant coaches he should dress despite Popovich wanting to rest him once during a back-to-back set.

"We are in a moment where we are getting to know each other, we are getting the rotation down," Ginobili said. "I was a little tired of course, we played (Sunday) and I played more minutes than I expected, but I thought I could help."

The Spurs will have two days off after completing a three-game trip against the young Wizards (2-1), who ended a 17-game losing streak in the series with a 101-93 home victory in the last meeting Jan. 13.

John Wall had 25 points in that contest after shooting 38.3 percent in his first seven career games against the Spurs. He netted that same amount Saturday, but the Wizards missed their first 3-0 start in 10 seasons with a 117-110 loss to the Knicks.

Bradley Beal had 26 points for the second straight game and is shooting 10 of 20 from 3-point range. The deadline to reach a long-term deal was midnight Monday, but Beal and the Wizards mutually agreed to table contract talks until the summer, when he will become a restricted free agent.

"There's no hard feelings and I'm still just worried about winning," Beal said. "And we're gonna win. That's my main goal."

The Wizards need to play better defense if they want to do that consistently. After beating Orlando 88-87 last Wednesday, they gave up 113 points and allowed Milwaukee to shoot 51.2 percent in Friday's win before the Knicks pulled away in the fourth quarter.

"The commitment to defend is not there," coach Randy Wittman said. "I've got to change that."

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