Kispert's night helps Wizards pull away from Spurs
WASHINGTON (AP) — Corey Kispert scored a career-high 26 points and sank six 3-pointers, Deni Avdija added 21 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, and the Washington Wizards pulled away for a 136-124 win over the San Antonio Spurs in a meeting of depleted teams Friday night.
Delon Wright added a season-best 24 points and Kristaps Porzingis 23 for the Wizards, who missed three-time All-Star Bradley Beal (left knee sprain) for a second game.
“Overall, I thought it was a terrific team effort,” Wizards coach Wes Unseld Jr. said. “Corey's career high was a plus, and we got tremendous output from our bench today, which was good to see.”
The 12th-place Wizards snapped a four-game losing skid and are tied with Indiana at 33-41, 2 1/2 games behind the Chicago Bulls for the final Eastern Conference play-in game spot.
Washington made 15 of 30 attempts beyond the arc one game after setting season lows for number and percentage of 3s made in Wednesday’s loss to West-leading Denver.
Keldon Johnson scored 30 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for San Antonio, which played without 2022 ninth-overall draft pick Jeremy Sochan (sore right knee) for the third time in four games.
Keita Bates-Diop added 20 points and Doug McDermott had 18 for the Spurs, who have lost all three games entering the finale of a four-game road trip.
“They just put so much pressure on you with their ability to hit the paint,” Unseld said of the Spurs' offense. “Drive and kick, drive and kick. You're going to have to guard three or four drive-and-kicks, and it's really difficult to do.”
After trailing by as many as 13, San Antonio surged ahead to their first second-half lead during a 14-2, third-quarter run. Johnson's driving layup while fouled put the Spurs in front, and he rebounded his own missed free throw to find Devonte' Graham for a kick-out 3 to make it 84-80.
From there, the lead changed five times before Washington took it back for good via a 12-4 spurt. Wright fueled that stretch when he hit a runner at the third-quarter buzzer to put the Wizards up 99-98 and followed with a 3 to open the fourth.
“It was definitely a big stretch because they started to make a run and we let them stay in the game,” Wright said. “I just thought we had to buckle down and start hitting some shots and getting some stops.”
Spurs: Went on a team visit Thursday to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. ... Coach Gregg Popovich said Sochan is still likely to play down the stretch “off and on, when he's feeling good,” despite his recent absences. ... Tre Jones had 10 points and 12 assists.
Wizards: Unseld suggested pregame it's unlikely Beal would be playing through his knee injury if Washington was more competitive in the playoff race. “I can't say that for a fact,” Unseld said. “I think it's something that would keep him out, hopefully just for a game or two.” ... Starting F Kyle Kuzma (right ankle sprain) missed his third straight game.
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Although the Wizards still retain a chance at reaching the playoffs, with eight games left Kispert said he's not bothered by fans who would rather the team lose to better their odds in the draft lottery.
“We're playing to win the game, but at the same (time), they're not wrong,” the second-year pro said. “We had 70 games to win before this, right? And when you get to a certain point and you haven't won as much as you want, then sometimes priorities change.”
Spurs: Close their road trip Sunday at Boston.
Wizards: Visit Toronto on Sunday.
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