- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 22, 2009

SAN ANTONIO | Two road games, two dysfunctional performances and another new low for the Washington Wizards.

A night after getting run out of the gym by the Oklahoma City Thunder because of a sorry excuse for a defensive showing, the Wizards rode into San Antonio and actually did a decent job defending the hosting Spurs. But an ice cold offense crippled Washington in an 106-84 loss.

On Friday, the Wizards got a combined 69 points from Antawn Jamison, Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler. Saturday night, the trio combined for just 41 points to lead a squad that posted a season-worst .333 shooting clip from the field. The Wizards also got outrebounded 59-44.

Arenas had a team-high 18 points against the Spurs, but his 7-for-18 shooting performance was anything but effective, and his three turnovers were one more than his assist total for the night.

Jamison, playing in his third game of the season, had 15 points and was 4-for-12, and Butler managed just eight points after making three of nine field goal attempts for the 3-9 Wizards.

The matchup with the Spurs (5-6) was supposed to be a meeting of common opponents. Both teams entered the season expecting to contend with their conference’s elite squads. But both got off to slow starts because of injuries to key players and slowly developing chemistry.

But Saturday’s game showed that the Spurs — who got point guard Tony Parker back from injury — might not be that far off from solving their problems. The Wizards, meanwhile, appear to be a long ways off, still unable once again to put together a consistent effort.

A night after allowing the Thunder to torch them on 53 percent shooting, the Wizards were slightly better Saturday, holding the Spurs to a .465 clip. And after turning the ball over 20 times in Oklahoma City, Washington had only nine turnovers in San Antonio. But ball movement again was a struggle as the Wizards mustered only 12 assists compared to the Spurs’ 32, and rather than settling into any sort of flow in Flip Saunders’ system, Washington’s players repeatedly rushed shots, which more often than not missed their mark.

The Spurs were led by Tony Parker’s 17 points, eight assists and six rebounds and Tim Duncan’s 16 points, seven assists and nine rebounds.

Shooting guard Mike Miller started despite aggravating his sprained left shoulder Friday night in Oklahoma City and struggling mightily while logging 35 minutes in that 127-108 defeat. Playing the role of offensive facilitator on Saturday, Miller helped the Wizards rebound from a 5-0 deficit off the tip and go on a run that cut the lead to 18-16 with 4:44 left in the first quarter. A layup from Arenas was the play that pulled Washington within two points, but the play also proved damaging as the point guard collided with Miller under the basket and both tumbled to the floor.

Arenas was fine, but Miller had to be helped to his feet. Then, unable to walk on his own, he had to be helped back to the locker room by trainer Eric Waters and teammate Dominic McGuire.

The Wizards briefly went ahead 21-18, but then fell apart, missing five straight jump shots to close out the quarter. The Spurs, meanwhile, scored nine unanswered points for a 27-21 lead.

That was the start of a 15-0 run gave San Antonio a 33-21 lead. The Wizards started the second quarter like they ended the first, turning the ball over on a traveling call on Andray Blatche, and then missing two shots. Blatche finally stopped the bleeding with a jumper from 22 feet out that cut the lead to 10.

The Wizards managed to pull within 38-33 of the Spurs with just less than five minutes left in the half, but San Antonio orchestrated another streak to go up 52-40 at halftime.

Washington was lucky to have trailed by only 12 points, however, considering that it shot an atrocious 28.6 percent from the field and was outrebounded 35-25 in the first half.

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