Even with Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard sidelined, the San Antonio Spurs were able to edge the Washington Wizards 101-92 Saturday night in a contest that saw its fair share of lead changes and ties.
Ultimately, the Spurs were able to pull away behind big performances from point guards Cory Joseph and Patty Mills, as well as Tiago Splitter in the post.
Though the first half featured far more offensive firepower from both teams than the second, defense definitely came at a shortage, with San Antonio shooting 55 percent and Washington 49 percent.
|Game Grades at a Glance|
|San Antonio Spurs||Grade|
|Rest of Team||B|
|Rest of Team||B-|
San Antonio Spurs
Tim Duncan: C+
Tim Duncan's impact was limited, Saturday night. He posted just four points—he only made two shots and attempted just eight.
He wasn't the defensive anchor that San Antonio could have used against a Washington offense that was executing at full throttle, though he did provide the team with two blocks and a game-high nine rebounds.
He also played a big role in the passing game, adding four assists on the night. Still, his performance against Washington was forgettable, given what he is capable of and what he had already done thus far this season.
Cory Joseph: A
Between Cory Joseph and Patty Mills, the San Antonio Spurs certainly had enough firepower at the point guard position to overcome the continued absence of Tony Parker. In particular, Joseph, as the starter, made a huge statement, as he set the tone for the rest of the offense.
With 19 points—a career high 17 of them in the first half—on 8-of-10 shooting, he enjoyed one of the greatest scoring nights of his career. He helped lead a monumental run at the end of the first half to bring San Antonio back from a 10-point deficit, and though his scoring onslaught quieted in the second half, his overall impact is hard to ignore.
Pop on Cory Joseph: 'He put out a hell of an effort tonight. He is a tough young man. He was fantastic." #spurs2015-1-4 04:40:55
Patty Mills: A-
The other half of the Spurs' two-headed point guard monster was effective on offense as well, combining with Joseph to guarantee that the team's offense had a dynamic offensive leader at all times. Highlighted by an incredible shooting stretch in his first few minutes off the bench, Mills provided the team with a spark in the second unit.
Jeff McDonald @JMcDonald_SAEN
Patty Mills = 10 points in three minutes.2015-1-4 01:53:00
That said, San Antonio struggled as a team with Mills at the helm. Though Mills wasn't a defensive liability—he hustled for loose balls—his on-ball defense was far more faulty than Joseph's, and John Wall was able to score in loads against him.
Still, with 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting, he did far more help than harm in his fourth (and so far, best) game of the season.
Pop on Patty Mills: His shot looks a little bit better & he's starting to figure out where to be on the court and that kind of thing #spurs2015-1-4 04:49:25
Tiago Splitter: A-
From the start, it was evident that there was to be a battle of the Brazilian big men. Nene got going early, but Splitter ultimately won the matchup. With Duncan struggling to score in the post, Splitter carried the interior offense, posting 16 points and letting his trademarked awkward hook shot run wild.
Trevor Zickgraf @TrevorWrites
I think Tiago and Nene made a points bet tonight.2015-1-4 01:46:42
That Washington's guard penetration was lethal is the only knock on his play, as he usually combines with Duncan to form an impervious defensive tandem. Still, San Antonio—as a team—struggled defensively and will continue to do so with Kawhi Leonard out.
Overall, he was a beast offensively and enjoyed his best scoring night of the season.
Rest of Team: B
It was on Boris Diaw's shoulders that the Spurs ultimately made their final run, with the versatile big man playing a huge role as both a scorer and distributor. He finished with 14 points on 7-of-8 shooting and added three assists.
Marco Belinelli posted 12 points from the starting lineup, while Danny Green had 10—his poor three-point shooting continued, though, as he went 1-of-4 on the night.
Manu Ginobili had his fair share of highlight-worthy plays, but he finished with just five points and five assists on the night.
Wiz assistant coach comes out of locker room and says #Spurs showed them what west conference ball is all about2015-1-4 04:01:14
John Wall: B
John Wall was really, really good at the game's start and quickly cooled off afterward. After beginning the night 5-of-5 from the floor, he finished just 7-of-13 with 15 points and failed to provide Washington with the scoring leader to counter Cory Joseph's effort on San Antonio's end.
Even so, it was a solid overall outing from the MVP candidate. Even when he wasn't scoring, he ignited the Wizards' high-powered offense, paving the way for an ensemble scoring attack with a game-high eight assists.
It won't go down as one of his most memorable contests of his defining 2014-15 campaign, but it was still a strong night for the Wizards' floor general.
Nene also started the game stronger than he closed, but he too ultimately finished with a solid scoring line—posting 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting
He had a good defensive night statistically, with two steals and a block, and let his physicality manifest itself in the form of five fouls.
But beyond the stats, Nene had his fair share of lapses on both ends. He was invisible on the glass, missed a few scoring opportunities and watched Tiago Splitter in the best game since his return. He could have been much worse, but Nene's performance wasn't nearly as positive as the stats might suggest.
Marcin Gortat: B-
Gortat, too, was good but not great. He was one of six Washington players in double digits, but like the rest, he failed to stand out.
His biggest impact was on the boards, where he finished with five, keeping the Wizards—who had just 31 as a team—from being embarrassed in the rebounding column.
That Duncan was limited offensively can be credited to Gortat, but it was an average game for the Wizards' interior star.
Bradley Beal: B
Beal began the game slowly but ultimately finished with a team-high 15 points. He was perfect until the end from beyond the arc and helped to carry Washington through its rough patches in the second half when its other scorers began to fall silent.
Washington Wizards @WashWizards
Big shot Bradley Beal! Cuts deficit in half, #Wizards down 3, 91-88, 5:22 left #WizSpurs #NBABallot http://t.co/Rume9gvNXS2015-1-4 03:29:41
Worth noting, however, is that Beal ended up with the team's worst plus-minus rating, with a minus-11.
His only other impact outside of his scoring came in the form of three assists in what was—like his teammates—a solid but easily forgettable performance.
Rest of Team: B-
The Wizards definitely had standout players in the second unit, with Kris Humphries contributing 10 points and eight boards while Otto Porter, fresh off his first DNP of the season, added 11 points. Both shot 5-of-8 on the night.
However, veterans Andre Miller and Rasual Butler combined for just three points on 1-of-10 shooting. Their impact was largely needed in the second half with Washington's bench running just five deep.
The Spurs, now 21-14, next draw the Detroit Pistons at home on Tuesday. The Wizards (22-11) will travel to New Orleans to face the Pelicans on Monday as they look to snap a three-game losing streak.