- The Washington Times - Monday, January 17, 2005

SAN ANTONIO — Washington Wizards coach Eddie Jordan was unsure what to expect from his team leading up to last night’s game against the San Antonio Spurs.

He did not have to wait long for the answer. In their first game since guard Larry Hughes was sidelined four-to-six weeks with a fractured right thumb, the Wizards suffered a humbling 101-73 loss to the Spurs before 17,232 at SBC Center.

The loss ended a seven-game winning streak for the Wizards (22-14).

Without the league leader in steals, the Wizards freely admitted they have lost a significant part of the identity they have spent honing as the season approaches the halfway mark.

“I expect us to come back and be resilient [today],” Jordan said. “I expect us to come out with more energy and assertiveness. But still, we are treading waters that we are not used to.”

Jordan was referring to tonight’s game against Dallas, a good team but clearly a rung or two below the Spurs on the NBA food chain.

The Spurs (31-9), in holding the Wizards to a season-low in points, snapped Washington’s 10-game streak of scoring at least 100 points. San Antonio’s defense suffocated the Wizards from the start, holding them to just 31.8 percent shooting.

The game, in fact, was decided at the outset when the Spurs, led by Tony Parker, opened a 21-2 lead in the first seven minutes. Parker finished with 23 points, eight assists and seven rebounds.

So constricting was the Spurs defense that it held Gilbert Arenas, the Wizards’ top scorer, to an 0-for-12 shooting performance.

“Their whole demeanor was to beat us,” said Arenas, who scored just three points. “They respected us enough to bring their ‘A’ game and beat us like they did.

“It’s like the young kid that gets bold and goes against his father, and the father has to smack him down to let him know that you’re still small. And that’s what they did. They smacked us down and let us know that we needed more work.”

On a night when the Wizards had their worst shooting performance of the season — they were just 27-for-85 — almost everyone, with the exception of Jarvis Hayes, who had a career-high 27 points, played miserably.

Antawn Jamison scored six points on 2-for-6 shooting, and he finished without a single rebound. Jared Jeffries (four points), Brendan Haywood (two points) and Juan Dixon (10 points in place of Hughes) accounted for the starters’ combined 25 points.

Realizing last night was “one of those nights,” Jordan didn’t play any of his starters in the fourth quarter. Of the Spurs’ starters, only Parker played at least five minutes in the final 12.

The Spurs played without injured Manu Ginobili (thigh contusion). In his absence the start went to Brent Barry, who finished with 17 points and played a big role in the team’s 12-for-16 shooting performance from 3-point range. Barry was 5-for-5. Reserve Devin Brown posted a career-high 24 points.

Winless now in their last five appearances in San Antonio dating to Dec.11, 1999, the Wizards hope to change their fortunes tonight at Dallas, where they last won on Dec. 8,2001.

And once again the Wizards will try to rediscover themselves.

“It’s going to be interesting to see what type of identity we have without him,” Jamison said of Hughes. “Offensively I think we’ll be able to hold the fort down. But defensively, Larry did a lot. He was out there coaching sometimes. He causes a lot of havoc creating turnovers and pointing people in the right direction. But the quicker we get into a groove and the quicker we start winning without Larry is what is going to help us through here.”

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