Wizards are homely against Spurs, 89-79 Duncan is nemesis in 3rd straight defeat

January 15, 1998|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,SUN STAFF

WASHINGTON -- Last night was one more sign that the dominance the Washington Wizards had enjoyed at the MCI Center since it opened last month has come to an end.

David Robinson and Tim Duncan combined for 50 points and 31 rebounds to lead the San Antonio Spurs to an 89-79 win over the Wizards before a sellout crowd.

It was the third straight loss for Washington, which had expected to make the most of its current stretch of six straight games at home. Instead, the Wizards have dropped three straight at what had been the friendliest of confines.

What Washington did last night was have the misfortune of facing one of the hottest teams in the league, as the Spurs won for the 15th time in their last 16 games. And they won on a night when Robinson, the league's third-leading scorer, struggled offensively.

Robinson scored 22 points, but hit just seven of 24 shots from the field. He did contribute 14 rebounds.

But Duncan made up the slack, proving as good as advertised. He scored 28 points and grabbed 17 rebounds, demonstrating the talent that made him the consensus Player of the Year in college after his senior season at Wake Forest.

Chris Webber scored 27 points (the 10th straight time he has scored more than 20) to lead the Wizards. But after hitting six of his first eight shots, Webber connected on just seven of 19 the rest of the way. Juwan Howard scored 21 points, and Rod Strickland had 16 points and 12 assists.

It was the second of back-to-back games for the Spurs, who won in Boston Tuesday in the first game of their five-game East Coast trip. San Antonio entered the game having won 14 of its previous 16, during which it yielded an average of 84.0 points per game.

The Wizards were able to put up 49 points at the half against the Spurs, and had three players in double figures (Webber 16 points, Howard 15 and Strickland 10, with seven assists). But poor shooting (37.0 percent) found them trailing, 52-49.

What the first half demonstrated to a national television audience was that Duncan was very much worthy of the Rookie-of-the-Month honors he earned for November and December.

Entering the game ranked second in the league in field-goal percentage (.569), fourth in rebounding (11.5) and seventh in blocks (2.47), Duncan had 17 points (seven of 10 from the field) and eight rebounds in the first half to lead the Spurs.

The Wizards, who had lost only twice at the MCI Center going into the game, led by as many as seven points in the first quarter. Webber did a good job attacking the basket (10 points) and Strickland had eight points and five assists as Washington ended the quarter with a 29-24 lead.

In the second period, Chuck Person got hot, hitting three three-pointers during one three minute stretch that turned a six-point deficit into a 40-36 lead when he hit the last with 7: 31 left. And San Antonio led by as many as seven in the quarter on the way to the 52-49 halftime lead.

Pub Date: 1/15/98

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