Wizards fall to Spurs 121-101 in return from COVID-19 layoff
SAN ANTONIO — — Washington struggled offensively and suffered some communication breakdowns defensively in crucial situations, but Wizards coach Scott Brooks could forgive those lapses.
After being unable to play for two weeks, Brooks and the Wizards were simply happy to be back on the court.
Patty Mills scored 21 points, Lonnie Walker IV added 16 and the San Antonio Spurs used their depth to beat Washington 121-101 on Sunday night in the Wizards’ first game since Jan. 11.
“This whole season for us has been weird,” Brooks said. “Definitely, I don’t think I will ever go through anything like this again. It all happened after one game after another. We can’t keep dwelling on it, we have to put it behind us. We got the first game in. I’m glad we did that.”
The Wizards had their previous six games postponed because they did not have enough eligible players due to the league’s COVID-19 protocols. Washington was playing for the first time since beating the visiting Phoenix Suns 128-107.
Brooks said the Wizards only began practicing within the last three days and had to use video monitors on the bench to show their offensive sets to recently signed players like Alex Len.
The Wizards still had six players ineligible against the Spurs, including Rui Hachimura. Washington faded down the stretch as Brooks primarily used an eight-man rotation.
“It’s not normal,” said Bradley Beal, who led Washington with 31 points. “I just got done getting tested after the game, so it’s not normal. We are doing a lot of things on the fly. It’s just the next-man-up mentality.”
The Spurs used a balanced attack to take advantage of the Wizards’ lack of activity. San Antonio had 27 assists and finished with a 20-3 advantage in fast-break points.
“Sharing the ball, competing, following the game plan and trying to take advantage,” Spurs point guard Dejounte Murray said.
Murray, who missed the second half of Friday’s loss to the Dallas Mavericks with a sprained left ankle, had 11 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists for his second career triple-double.
LaMarcus Aldridge added 15 points, Devin Vassell had 14 points and Keldon Johnson 13 for San Antonio.
Jerome Robinson scored 16 points for Washington. Russell Westbrook had nine points, eight rebounds and six assists in 25 minutes.
“I think all of our guys are going to have to get back in NBA rhythm,” Brooks said. “It’s been totally taken away from us.”
Wizards: Hachimura, Deni Avdija, Davis Bertans, Troy Brown Jr., Ish Smith and Moe Wagner all missed the game due to the league’s health and safety protocols. … Choosing not to reveal any names, Brooks said several players have begun working out and should return soon. “They probably will not come on this road trip, but will be back soon,” he said. … Point guard Cassius Winston was still wearing his medical mask upon entering the game for Westbrook in the first quarter. Someone from the bench yelled at Winston, who apparently forgot he had his mask on. He quickly took it off and tossed it toward the bench.
Spurs: Vassell is the first Spurs rookie with four or more 3-pointers in a game since Gary Neal in 2011. Vassell is also the sixth Spurs player with at least four 3-pointers in a game this season. Mills heads the list with four such games, followed by Walker with two. Vassell, Johnson, Aldridge and Rudy Gay each have one. … Murray collected his 1,000th career rebound in 202 games with the Spurs. He has 21 games with 10-plus rebounds in four seasons.
Wizards: Continue a three-game trip Tuesday against the Houston Rockets.
Spurs: At New Orleans on Monday night.