- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 13, 2012

SAN ANTONIO, Tex. — The Wizards got off to a rough start on the first game of a six-game road trip, losing 112-97 to the San Antonio Spurs on Monday night at the AT&T Center.

The Wizards made essentially the same mistakes against the Spurs that they did in their last outing, a home loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. They lost focus on the defensive end, and the game was lost by the end of the first half.

“We can’t have a first half [like that] from a defensive standpoint,” Wizards’ coach Randy Wittman said. “Until we get committed defensively for 48 [minutes], that’s what it boils down to against a team like this.

The Wizards were torched by Spurs guard Tony Parker, who scored 31 points on 13 of 18 from the floor. The Spurs shot 54 percent, had 30 assists and scored 64 points in the paint.

The Wizards managed to shoot just 44.8 percent, had 21 assists, and only scored 30 points in the paint.

Only the Spurs woeful free-throw shooting (10 for 19, 52. 6 percent) kept the game from being an even bigger blowout.

“Obviously we had our hands full with Parker,” Wittman said. “He’s playing as well as anybody in the league right now. But in that first half, we just allowed him to get to the rim time after time. Until we get committed on defense and stop worrying about offense…we’re scoring enough points. It’s a commitment to defense that we need.”

The Wizards were led by JaVale McGee (21 points), and Jordan Crawford (19 points), and Nick Young (18 points). John Wall added 12 points, but struggled to defend Parker, and to find his shot.

“I finally got my rhythm going, but they did a great job of not letting me get into the paint,” Wall said. “You have to get yours in transition, because when they’re set, they are one of the best set defensive teams in the league. We know we can score as a team, we got a lot of scorers, it just depends on if everybody’s shots are falling.”

But Wall agreed with Wittman – the problem is not the offense.

“Until everybody is committed on defense …” Wall began, and shook his head. “We can’t wait until the second half to play defense against a team like this.”

Perhaps it was Roger Mason Jr., who played with the Spurs from 2008 to 2010, who said it best, calling his former team one that can never be counted out.

“You have to be disciplined with a Spurs team,” Mason said.

“Defensively, we weren’t disciplined. We’re playing hard, but we had some mental lapses defensively that we need to fix. Until we really make that commitment, good teams are going to give us problems.”

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