The Washington Wizards beat the San Antonio Spurs 127-106 on Monday night. Here are five takeaways from what went down...
On Monday night in San Antonio, the Wizards broke a streak that was older than Deni Avdija. For the first time since 1999, after 22 straight losses, the Wizards have finally beaten the Spurs on the road.
That slump began during the days of Tim Duncan and David Robinson. Mitch Richmond and Rod Strickland were on the Wizards. It carried through the entirety of the Duncan era and then beyond, even during some of San Antonio's leanest years.
But the drought is no more, as Washington shook off a sluggish defensive start to knock off the Spurs behind a career-high 25 points from Avdija and 21 points from Bradley Beal. It was the sixth-straight win for the Wizards, their longest win streak of the season so far.
After winning six in a row, the Wizards are 24-26 on the season through 50 games. They are the closest they have been to .500 since Dec. 4.
Avdija has looked like a new person the last few games since the Rui Hachimura trade opened the door for him offensively and he took that up a notch with his career-high on 10-for-12 shooting. He also added nine rebounds, a block and a steal. Regardless of the numbers, how Avdija is getting his offense looks different. He is reaching deeper into his bag than ever before, perhaps a sign of confidence from the added security he has in his role.
Avdija has been getting into the paint consistently in recent games and is showing more and more creativity with his finishes. He reached around Jakob Poeltl on a step-through drive to score two in the first half. Not long after, he drove left and dropped in a reverse floater over Jeremy Sochan. He even had an up-and-under layup in the fourth quarter and a few perfectly executed bully-ball plays in the paint. Avdija is trying shots he just didn't try before and they are working.
The Wizards got Kristaps Porzingis back after a three-game absence due to a left ankle sprain. They clearly made a point to get him going early, too, as he scored their first seven points, including a dunk assisted by Beal to get things started. Porzingis had 13 points in his first seven minutes and afterward did his damage in other ways. He had 17 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and five blocks.
Porzingis' return technically fell within the original timeline assigned to him when the injury was diagnosed. Porzingis was said to be week-to-week, but there were some indications it would take longer than one week. Porzingis, though, made quick progress and is now back in the fold as the Wizards keep winning.
Hot from three
The Wizards have had some issues making threes this season and especially on the road, but they were excellent on Monday in San Antonio. Washington shot 16-for-30 (53.3%) from long range, a big-time performance that was integral in them getting the victory. They took advantage of a major weakness for the Spurs, who allow the highest 3-point percentage (40%) in the NBA. As a result, they have the 30th-ranked defense.
Everyone in the Wizards' starting lineup made at least one three, led by Corey Kispert who made four of them. It was the 24th consecutive game he's made a three and eighth time this season he's made at least four. Beal and Monte Morris were not far behind with three threes apiece. Avdija also had two. It was a team effort and the Wizards have now made double-digit threes in eight straight games.
While Porzingis came back for this one, Daniel Gafford went down with a non-COVID illness. The news came out Monday afternoon, as Gafford evidently caught something on the road trip. On one hand, it was tough timing given Gafford was playing really well. He had 21 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks against the Pelicans on Saturday.
At least Porzingis was in there, as playing without both of them would have not been ideal for the Wizards. Given he isn't injured, the Wizards can hope to have him back soon. This was just the second game he's missed all year. He was tied with Kyle Kuzma for the most games played, but Kuzma now stands alone, having appeared in 49 of their 50 total games.