This time, C. Smith rises against Wizards

Understudy scores 21, Spurs deal Washington 3rd straight loss, 96-91

January 16, 2002|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,SUN STAFF

WASHINGTON - For a second straight game, the expected and the unexpected teamed up to deal the Washington Wizards a tough home loss against a Western Conference title aspirant.

The San Antonio Spurs got the predictable output from Tim Duncan and Steve Smith, who combined for 42 points, but the contribution of heretofore unheralded Charles Smith burned Washington, which dropped a 96-91 decision to the Spurs at MCI Center last night, its third straight loss overall.

Charles Smith, a three-year NBA veteran out of New Mexico, had a career-high 21 points, including a back-breaking three-pointer with 7:53 to start a 7-0 run that quelled a Washington rally.

"The biggest play of the game was where Charles Smith made that three-point basket," said Washington forward Popeye Jones. "That really took a lot out of us, because we felt like we had the momentum at that time. Then, he hits that three-point shot when we were closing in on them."

Even so, the Wizards (18-17), with four key members of their rotation - forward Christian Laettner and guards Richard Hamilton, Courtney Alexander and Tyronn Lue - out with injuries, took the Spurs to the wire, trailing by two with 9.2 seconds to go, after falling behind by as many as 11 in the final six minutes.

"Our guys are an amazing group," Washington coach Doug Collins said. "They fight. I love that about them. If I say we're going to shoot 38 percent from the floor and we're going to go down to the last shot against the Spurs, with guys being out ... that's amazing. Those guys did a great job."

Their performance was even more amazing considering that Michael Jordan, who finished with 20 points, was just 5-for-21 from the floor. He missed his first six shots.

"I stunk it up," said Jordan, who missed three free throws in the fourth quarter, the last of which could have cut a San Antonio advantage to two points with 27.4 seconds to go.

Four Washington players turned in more than 36 minutes, with a road game tonight against Atlantic Division-leading New Jersey on deck, but there was little talk of weariness.

"I think we're tired of losing these last three games," said Washington's Hubert Davis, who had 22 points, including the three-pointer with 9.1 seconds remaining to get the Wizards to within two.

"We're healthy enough and young enough to run up and down the court. It's just tough losing these types of games. Giving credit to the San Antonio Spurs, we had a very good chance to win this game."

Said Jones: "There's no sympathy in this league. We're short and we have guys that are hurt, but that's the way it is. You have to go out and play every night. We do need to get some guys back that can help us. Right now, we're struggling and we're running on fumes."

Wizards guard Chris Whitney, pressed into extra duty by the absence of Lue, who missed the game with a groin injury, had 20 points and personally shot Washington back into the contest with three three-pointers in the third and fourth quarters, as well as three foul shots on a play on which he was fouled attempting a three.

Jordan's pull-up jumper in the lane with 8:20 to go got the Wizards to within 77-73. From there, the Spurs broke the game open again as Charles Smith, in his first San Antonio start, hit his three as the shot clock expired, his only three points of the second half.

.............................FG FT Reb

San Antonio Min M-A M-A O-T A PF PTS

SSmith 37 8-11 1-1 2-5 3 3 20

Duncan 43 6-17 10-12 0-7 2 3 22

Robinson 30 4-7 2-2 4-10 1 6 10

CSmith 39 8-14 1-5 1-2 1 5 21

Daniels 37 4-12 1-2 0-2 6 2 9

Rose 19 4-8 1-3 0-4 2 3 9

Porter 19 0-4 2-2 0-3 7 0 2

Jackson 12 1-2 0-0 0-1 0 2 3

Bryant 4 0-0 0-0 1-1 0 0 0

Totals 240 35-75 18-27 8-35 22 24 96

Percentages: FG .467, FT .667. 3-point goals: 8-20, .400 (C.Smith 4-5, S.Smith 3-4, Jackson 1-2, Rose 0-1, Porter 0-3, Daniels 0-5). Team rebounds: 11. Blocked shots: 4 (Robinson, Duncan, Rose, C.Smith). Turnovers: 13 (Duncan 6, Robinson 2, Rose 2, Daniels, Porter, Jackson). Steals: 9 (Duncan 3, Daniels 2, C.Smith 2, Porter, S.Smith). Technical fouls: None.

FG FT Reb

Washington Min M-A M-A O-T A PF PTS

Jordan 40 5-21 10-16 0-1 4 0 20

Jones 32 4-8 2-2 6-9 2 5 10

White 36 5-12 5-8 11-19 0 5 15

Davis 39 10-14 0-0 0-4 2 2 22

Whitney 40 5-12 7-7 0-5 4 5 20

Haywood 13 1-3 0-0 2-4 0 4 2

Nesby 17 1-5 0-0 1-4 0 1 2

KBrown 2 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

Thomas 13 0-4 0-0 1-6 1 1 0

Simmons 8 0-2 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

Totals 240 31-81 24-33 21-52 13 23 91

Percentages: FG .383, FT .727. 3-point goals: 5-14, .357 (Whitney 3-8, Davis 2-3, Nesby 0-3). Team rebounds: 10. Blocked shots: 3 (Thomas 2, Jordan). Turnovers: 13 (Jordan 4, Whitney 3, Haywood 2, Davis, Thomas, Jones, Nesby). Steals: 7 (Whitney 4, Davis 2, Jones). Technical fouls: None.

San Antonio 28 20 24 24 - 96

Washington 13 22 26 30 - 91

A-20,674 (20,674). T-2:25.Officials-Ted Bernhardt, Leroy Richardson, Phil Robinson.

Wizards tonight

Opponent: New Jersey Nets

Site: Continental Airlines Arena, East Rutherford, N.J.

Time: 7:30

TV/Radio: CSN, TBS/WTEM (980 AM)

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