- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 8, 2007

Seldom have the Washington Wizards been completely overmatched at home, where they have piled up wins and chased bad and good teams out of Verizon Center.

But last night they learned what it’s like to be the mouse in a cat-and-mouse relationship. The Wizards were never competitive against the San Antonio Spurs, who completed a series sweep by handing Washington its worst home loss 110-83 before a quiet sellout crowd of 20,173.

The 27-point defeat matched the Wizards’ largest of the season, a rout at Dallas on Nov. 21.

For most of 48 minutes, the Wizards (28-20) looked as if they had no business being on the same floor as the Spurs, who handed Washington its third loss in four games without injured forward Antawn Jamison.

“It’s not about the guys that are hurt — it’s about the guys that aren’t hurt. It’s about the guys that are available to play,” Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said. “There is no excuse about not having Antawn or not running the offense because Antawn is not there. We’ve said it before: We’ve got to do the things we have to do. We have to defend better and we have to execute better. We didn’t do either.”

It has become evident that the Wizards struggle without Jamison in the lineup. Their three losses since his injury have been by an average of 17.6 points. The lone victory came against the Seattle SuperSonics, a lousy team that left Washington on Monday with a franchise-record 15-game road losing streak.

Gilbert Arenas led the Wizards with 29 points, and Caron Butler added 15. The Wizards can win games against some teams with those kind of numbers from what’s left of their Big Three, but they have no shot at beating a high-powered team like the Spurs when the other starters — Jarvis Hayes (five points), DeShawn Stevenson (four points) and Brendan Haywood (five points) — go a combined 4-for-17 from the field.

“They gave us one right on the behind for 48 minutes,” Arenas said, echoing Jordan.

When it was suggested that the whipping might not have been as complete and as thorough had Jamison been in uniform rather than seated courtside dressed in a suit, Arenas didn’t buy it.

“It happened there, too, and Antawn was a part of it,” Arenas said, referring to the earlier meeting when the Spurs held the Wizards to season lows in points, shooting percentage and assists. “He got to sit and watch this time.”

San Antonio had five scorers in double figures. Tim Duncan and Tony Parker led the Spurs (33-16) with 20 apiece, and Manu Ginobili came off the bench to score 18.

In their two victories over Washington this season, the Spurs have constricted the Wizards offensively. Washington finished with 11 assists last night and just 19 in the two meetings. This time the Spurs had 29 assists on their 42 baskets and made 53.8 percent of their field goals.

“It was one of our better games of the year,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “It was one of those nights where we had a really good overall night. Washington didn’t have one of their better nights, and once in a while that happens. It happened to us a few times this year, but I’m glad it happened to them tonight.”

The Spurs opened the game by making 72.7 percent of their field goals in the fist quarter. They finished shooting 53.8 percent from the floor and never trailed.

The Spurs were playing the fourth of eight games in an annual road trip when the rodeo comes to town and turns them into vagabonds. When this 19-day odyssey ends, the Spurs will have traveled 9,795 miles. But on this night, it was the Wizards who looked as if they had been making late-night flights.

Last night was the Spurs first game in five nights.

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