- 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 on Saturday and actually did a decent job defending the Spurs. But an ice-cold offense crippled Washington in a 106-84 loss.

“This was another one where we couldn’t put it all together,” Wizards coach Flip Saunders said. “Players were playing tight, players are frustrated, players that aren’t playing feel they should be playing. We’re very much in a bad situation right now.”

On Friday, the Wizards (3-9) got a combined 69 points from Antawn Jamison, Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler. On Saturday night, the trio managed just 41 points to lead a squad that shot a season-worst .333 from the field. The Wizards also were 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 Wizards.

The matchup with the Spurs (5-6) was supposed to be a meeting of similar 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 far from solving their problems. The Wizards, meanwhile, appear to be a long ways off, still unable to put together a consistent effort.

Washington, which was burned by the Thunder’s 53 percent shooting Friday, was slightly better against the Spurs, holding them 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 with the Spurs’ 32.

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 against the Thunder. Playing the role of offensive facilitator, Miller helped the Wizards rebound from a 5-0 hole off the tip and go on a run that cut the deficit 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.

Unable to walk on his own, Miller had to be helped to the locker room by trainer Eric Waters and teammate Dominic McGuire. Saunders said after the game that it was believed Miller had torn his calf and could be out four to five weeks.

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 for San Antonio. The Wizards managed to pull within 38-33 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 29 percent from the field and was outrebounded 35-25 in the first half.

The Spurs blew the Wizards away in the second half, leading by as many as 30 points and handing Washington its worst defeat of the season.

“It’s very frustrating,” Butler said. “Guys are battling injuries, still trying to go out there and compete at a high level and it’s frustrating. You’re looking at it and you look at a game like the night before you compete hard and give yourself a shot then you come back after resting all day and fall very short here in San Antonio. It’s really painful.”

• Mike Jones can be reached at mjones@washingtontimes.com.

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