The San Antonio Spurs look to continue their success on the road while pushing their way up the Western Conference standings when they square off against the surging Washington Wizards on Monday.
The Spurs (30-29) head to the nation’s capital on the heels a 110-108 win in New Orleans on Saturday. San Antonio has won two straight games and four of its past five to widen its lead over the 11th-place Pelicans in the Western Conference standings.
DeMar DeRozan, who missed San Antonio’s 106-91 win over the Detroit Pistons on Thursday, scored 32 points against New Orleans. Nine of those points came in the final three minutes, including a pullup jumper with 34.9 seconds remaining that gave the Spurs a late three-point lead.
DeRozan, who was questionable up until tipoff with a right quad contusion, converted all 12 of his free throws.
“It was big for us, with (New Orleans) right behind us and us continually trying to move up every time we get on the court,” DeRozan said. “Down this last stretch of games, we need every single game.”
DeRozan has shown time and time again this season that he is San Antonio’s go-to man in the clutch.
“DeMar seems to never get tired, and he’s always ready to go,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “He wants the ball, he wants to score, but he’ll get it to his teammates if that’s appropriate. He loves being in that situation. He’s the best on our team with that.”
Derrick White scored 22 points for San Antonio, with Keldon Johnson adding 14 and Dejounte Murray chipping in with 11, including two late clutch free throws. San Antonio is 17-10 on the road this season.
Washington will play the second game of a home back-to-back after recording a 119-110 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday evening. The Wizards finished the game with an 11-2 run over the final 2:45.
The Wizards (27-30) have won eight straight games, with the streak serving as Washington’s longest since December 2001.
Bradley Beal led the way for Washington by scoring 33 points in Sunday’s win. Beal scored 30 or more points for the 31st time this season; he leads the league in that category.
Beal limped off with a left leg injury after a layup in the final minute. He was smiling after the game, however.
“I felt someone kick me in my calf, and my shin and my leg just felt horrible,” Beal said. “It was a horrible couple of minutes of pain and wouldn’t calm it down once I got up and down the court a few times. I was like, let me just sit my butt down before I make it worse.”
The Wizards made all the plays they needed in the end game. Beal scored seven consecutive points in the middle of the fourth quarter and Daniel Gafford hit two big dunks off assists from Russell Westbrook in the final 2:11 of the game to seal the victory.
Raul Neto, Westbrook and Robin Lopez scored 14 points apiece and Gafford added 12 off the bench. Westbrook also had 11 assists.
“We’re just executing better now,” Gafford said. “I wouldn’t say it’s changed. Guys are just coming in and working their butts off to be able to play the game of basketball.”
–Field Level Media