Popovich, Spurs on 7-game losing streak; worst since 1996-97


San Antonio Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan lies on the court after he was fouled during the second half of the team’s NBA basketball game against the Washington Wizards, Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019, in Washington. The Wizards won 138-132. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Forgive Gregg Popovich for not being in much of a mood to discuss the current state of the San Antonio Spurs.

Fact is, he’s just not used to losing like this.

Here’s how long it’s been since the Spurs dropped seven games in a row, the way they now have after DeMar DeRozan, LaMarcus Aldridge and the rest of the team were beaten by the lowly Washington Wizards 138-132 on Wednesday night: You have to go all the way back to the 1996-97 season to find such a rut for Pop and Co.

That was before Tim Duncan had even played a game for them — and that guy was in the arena Wednesday, sitting on the sideline as an assistant to Popovich. Before Popovich led the franchise to five NBA championships and 22 consecutive playoff appearances. Before folks such as Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili and Kawhi Leonard had come and gone.

After the latest setback, Popovich spoke to reporters only briefly.

“All in all, if you score 132 points, you should probably have a pretty good chance to win a game. The bad news is, if you give up 138, you are not going to win,” he said. “I’m a really smart guy. I’m figuring that’s logical. I could be wrong. … There’s not much else to say.”

His players didn’t offer a whole lot in the way of explanations, either.

DeRozan, who scored 31 points but missed a pair of free throws with 9.9 seconds left and a chance to cut San Antonio’s deficit to two, called the way things are going at the moment “extremely frustrating.”

“Every single game we’ve lost,” DeRozan said, “feels worse than the last game.”

The Spurs led this one 69-63 at halftime, but let it get away with some lax defense.

They let Bradley Beal score 21 of his 33 points in the third quarter, when he shot 9 for 9. As a whole, the Wizards made 58.7% of their field-goal attempts, 60% on 3-pointers.

Washington, remember, began the day last in the Eastern Conference, with a 3-8 record.

San Antonio started off this season well enough, going 4-1. Since then, though, the Spurs have gone 1-9, so their skid has put them at 5-10 entering Friday night’s game at the Philadelphia 76ers.

They hadn’t lost seven straight since Feb. 23 to March 5, 1997, under Popovich, and the last time they had a longer drought was eight defeats from Nov. 15-30, 1996, under Bob Hill. It was during the next month that Popovich, the team’s general manager, fired Hill and moved from the front office to the sideline.

San Antonio finished 20-62, won the draft lottery and took Duncan with the No. 1 overall pick.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Now Popovich will try to figure out a way to turn things around this season. There’s plenty of time left, of course.

“The important thing is that we’re holding strong to our core values and we’re going to find a way,” said Patty Mills, who made his first start of the season Wednesday and scored 16 points. “We’ve just got to stay positive. We’ve got to stick together. We’ve got to find a way and we’ll get through it.”


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