|Spurs on 4-game win streak as they welcome Wizards|
A pair of winning streaks and help with playoff positioning will be in the offing when the San Antonio Spurs and the Washington Wizards square off on Wednesday at the AT&T Center in San Antonio.
The Spurs have won four straight games, matching their longest streak of the season for the first time since Dec. 4-9. San Antonio's latest win came on Monday in an 89-75 win over injury-depleted Golden State as LaMarcus Aldridge poured in 33 points and took 12 rebounds for the Spurs.
Yes, the defending NBA champion Warriors were without Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson (all who missed the game with injuries). Golden State even lost its fourth All-Star, Draymond Green, to a pelvic contusion in the first half.
But the Spurs still had to go and take the game from the Warriors' "B" team, and, in the fourth quarter, they did. Aldridge scored 19 of his points in the final quarter, hitting 7 of 10 field-goal attempts and going 5 for 5 from the free-throw line while also recording six rebounds, one steal and one block in the final 12 minutes.
"Aldridge was a horse in that fourth quarter," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "Obviously, it wasn't a fair fight, but it just shows what kind of class they (Warriors) have, how well coached they are and how badly they want to be champions again.
"They played great, and we picked the right five minutes to play really well at the end of the game.
The win allowed San Antonio to move into fifth place in the Western Conference standings with 13 games to play and plenty to be decided between now and the middle of April.
After losing 11 of 15 games in which they yielded more than 100 points in each defeat, San Antonio has held opponents under the century mark in three of its last four games.
"I guess we lost enough that we got tired of it, so they've shown a lot more activity just in general, a lot more communication and activity in the last four games," Popovich said. "That's what we did for most of the year except for that stretch of 10, 11 games. And we've gotten that back, so hopefully it will continue."
Only days ago, San Antonio was out of the playoff picture after losing consecutive road games to Golden State, Oklahoma City and Houston. But then came a timely six-game homestand that's produced four straight wins.
"When you lose, the sky is falling," Aldridge said. "When you win, everything feels better. I think our whole mindset is better."
Washington heads to the Alamo City on a two-game win streak that included an overtime win in Boston on March 14 and Saturday's 109-102 victory over Indiana. Bradley Beal scored 19 points to lead the Wizards in that victory while Marcin Gortat added 18 as Washington claimed the head-to-head tiebreaker with Indiana by taking two of three in the season series.
"We want to win games. That's our main priority -- winning ballgames," Washington guard Bradley Beal said. "Wherever we fall at the end of the year is where we fall. We definitely want home-court (advantage), for sure, and we're just going to make sure we put ourselves in a good position to succeed for the playoffs."
Washington continues to play, and play well, without star guard John Wall, who is out indefinitely after knee surgery at the end of January. It will begin play Wednesday in fourth place in the Eastern Conference and just a half-game behind third-place Cleveland.
The Wizards have helped each other more since Wall's injury by maximizing their assist percentage over the past 22 games, assisting on 69.2 percent of its made field goals, the highest percentage in the league. Washington is averaging 28.5 assists per game since Jan. 27, the most in the league.
"We have tough games coming into our house," Gortat said. "It's obviously going to be very hard for us to win those games, but we have to continue to fight. If we're going to play like we played against Indiana, we should be fine."
This is the first meeting between the two teams this season; they face off again on Tuesday in the nation's capital.