Nene was nowhere to be found. The Washington Wizards’ 6-foot-11 center wasn’t on the inactive list, but he wasn’t at the end of the bench, either. After playing more than 48 minutes total in the last two games, Nene sat out against the San Antonio Spurs on Monday at Verizon Center, a 26-point blowout loss.
Although Nene’s presence in those two games didn’t produce a win, it did provide a spark and some much-needed hope that the Wizards could at least start to turn around their dismal season. Without him, and facing one the NBA’s best teams over the past decade, the Wizards had no chance, losing 118-92 to drop to 0-12.
“We’re all embarrassed, plain and simple,” said Martell Webster, who scored 16 points. “We knew the game plan, [we] didn’t come out and execute it. Our all-around effort was not up to par. We have to be better. There’s no excuses.”
Washington is now the 12th team in NBA history to start a season 0-12. Wizards coach Randy Wittman went with his fourth different starting lineup, going with A.J. Price and Bradley Beal at guard, with Trevor Ariza, Kevin Seraphin and Emeka Okafor in the front court.
With a trio of All-Stars in Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and future Hall-of-Famer Tim Duncan to contend with, Wittman pulled out all the stops. He played seldom-used Cartier Martin and Earl Barron in the first quarter, and used every player available except Shaun Livingston, who Wittman described as being “banged up” before the game.
The Wizards finished with five players in double figures — Webster, Kevin Seraphin (18), Jordan Crawford (19), Bradley Beal (11) and A.J. Price (11). But it was another rough outing by Jan Vesely, who continues to record more fouls (4) than points (0).
Okafor and Ariza also continued to struggle. Okafor had four points and three rebounds; Ariza scored five points and had four rebounds.
“The Spurs are a great team; it was our defensive breakdowns,” Beal said. “They’ve been playing together for a long time, but their IQ is just super high.”
Beal also took note of the Spurs’ attitude, calling the way they play basketball the way the game is supposed to be played.
“You can see they’re having fun,” Beal said. “You see us, we’re down, we’re mopey, we’re pouting, everything. We’re not together as a unit and things need to change.”
For the Spurs, who are fifth in the league in scoring at 100.9 points per game, it was another strong offensive performance, especially in the second half. The Spurs exceeded their season average before the halfway point of the fourth quarter.
San Antonio was led by Boris Diaw (16), Tiago Splitter (15 points, 12 rebounds) and Tony Parker (15). The Spurs shot 56.3 percent to the Wizards’ 41.1.
“We got beat by a team that someday, I’d like for us to be able to play like that,” Wittman said. “We came down by 12 at the half [and] it kind of took our will away. Credit to them, they carved us up pretty good tonight.”
Wittman emphasized the Spurs’ passing efficiency, with 32 assists to Washington’s 14.
“That’s the way the game should be played,” Wittman said. “Hopefully we can take a page out of that for the future.”
The Wizards will have their next opportunity to try again for that elusive first win on Wednesday when they face the Portland Trailblazers (6-8), who lost to the Detroit Pistons on Monday. With Nene’s status in question, and Wall with no timetable to return, Wittman knows he has to make the best of what he’s got, and he isn’t expecting any sympathy.
“We can’t feel sorry for ourselves,” Wittman said. “Nobody in this league feels sorry for us. Absolutely not, so we can’t add onto the problem and feel sorry for ourselves.”
• Carla Peay can be reached at email@example.com.
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