Wizards rally in final six minutes, ending Spurs' two-game winning streak
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Kyle Kuzma had 18 points and 11 rebounds, Daniel Gafford had 16 points and 13 rebounds, and the Washington Wizards rallied in the final six minutes to beat the San Antonio Spurs 118-113 on Monday night.
Gafford gathered a loose ball and dunked with 5.1 seconds remaining to put Washington up by five.
“Gaff I don’t think gets enough credit on our team,” Wizards interim coach Brian Keefe said. “He’s been doing this all year. The big guys, he was down there battling. Obviously had that huge one down the stretch. That offensive rebound to kind of sealed the game off. His defensive intensity, his activity on the glass. He’s been our anchor.”
Washington went on a 9-0 run to tie the game at 107-107 on Jordan Poole’s 3-pointer with 3:42 remaining. The Wizards took a 114-111 lead on Kuzma’s layup with 1:49 remaining.
“We just made plays down the stretch,” Kuzma said. “Our sense of urgency was very crisp in that second half.”
Tyus Jones and Marvin Bagley III had 15 points each and Poole finished with 13 for Washington, which won consecutive games for the first time this season and improved to 2-1 since coach Wes Unseld Jr. was moved to a front-office role and replaced on an interim basis by Keefe.
The Spurs were coming off a 113-112 victory Saturday over the Minnesota Timberwolves, who share the Western Conference lead with Oklahoma City.
“We’ve got to get strong mentally to get to the next game,” Wembanyama said. “A seemingly easier game than the previous one, we still need to come in with the same motivation. I think we maybe were mentally tired because of the two last efforts but we’ve got to get strong because it’s not acceptable.”
The Wizards outscored the Spurs 31-20 in the final quarter to overcome a rough third. After trailing by 14 in the third, Washington shot 68% in the fourth while San Antonio shot 37.5%.
“A self-inflicted loss,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. “I thought Washington played harder than we did. They played smarter. They executed better. We didn’t have enough people playing well or playing smart and we did that to ourselves. It’s a tough loss because for the first time in a while we looked young, we looked immature, we looked foolish and did not play with each other the way we have been.”
Everything went right for the Spurs in the third quarter even when things didn’t go according to plan.
Three minutes into the third, Tre Jones was forced to punch a pass forward to keep a defender from stealing a cross-court pass. The ball landed in the hands of Vassell, who would complete a 3-point play after being fouled on a layup.
A minute later, Wembanyama had to flip the ball over his head before stepping out of bounds when an alley-oop pass was tossed too far under the rim. Tre Jones gathered the ball and made an uncontested layup as Washington watched.
“We kept talking about it in timeouts,” Keefe said. “Just sick with it. Keep battling. Long game. We haven’t played our best yet. When we got to the fourth quarter, I thought the guys just mentally had the stamina to kind of keep competing through the end. It was a good finish for us.”
Gafford dunked twice against Wembanyama in the opening six minutes, rising before the 7-foot-3 rookie could take a swat. Wembanyama gained a measure of revenge in the second quarter when he caught Gafford’s short jumper and was credited with a block.
Wizards: Host Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday.
Spurs: Host Orlando on Wednesday.
AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/nba