SAN ANTONIO – It may not seem like much, but winning consecutive games proved to be an arduous step for San Antonio, one the Spurs finally accomplished on Monday night.
Derrick White had a season-high 24 points, Dejounte Murray had 22 points and 10 rebounds, and the San Antonio Spurs defeated the Washington Wizards 116-99 to win consecutive games for the first time this season.
San Antonio had not won back-to-back games in a stretch since late April (when they won three straight), sandwiching losing streaks in between all but one victory this season.
“I just told them right now, this one’s over, too,” Murray said. “On to the next and let’s build from it.”
Murray also had eight assists for San Antonio, which saw six players score in double figures. The Spurs had a season-high 72 points in the paint while the Wizards had 56.
Spurs center Jakob Poeltl had 14 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks, becoming the first player from the 2016 NBA Draft with 2,000 career rebounds and 400 career blocks.
Washington had a two-game winning streak snapped as they closed out a four-game road trip at 2-2.
Bradley Beal had 18 points, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope added 17 and Spencer Dinwiddie had 16 for the Wizards. Daniel Gafford added 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Neither team gained more than a 10-point advantage throughout the game. San Antonio was only 8 for 18 on 3-pointers but shot 53%.
Washington entered the game averaging 23.8 assists in their previous 10 games and continued the ball movement on Monday. But the Wizards were unable to stop the Spurs’ young roster, especially their backcourt duo of Murray and White, who combined to shoot 18 for 40 and had 13 assists.
“The coaching staff is on me about staying aggressive, all my teammates,” White said. “I loved that they had my back when I was down. They trust me to make those shots, so I just have to make them.”
White scored 18 points in the third quarter, a career-high for any quarter for the fifth-year guard.
“He just got a rhythm,” Washington coach Wes Unseld Jr. said. “Some of that was the coverage we were in. It puts a lot of pressure on the smalls, our guards. We struggled to get into the ball, and he was allowed to play in the pocket with a little bit of freedom.”
Wizards: Washington is 6-6 on road. … Montrezl Harrell had six points, five rebounds and six assists. He averaged 15.6 points and 7.8 rebounds in his previous 10 games. … After averaging 30 points in back-to-back seasons, Beal is averaging 23.2 points per game. He has scored 30 points only three times this season, but the Wizards were 6-15 at this point last season.
Spurs: San Antonio has won back-to-back games 881 times under Gregg Popovich since 1996, the most of any coach in league history. Former Lakers and Knicks coach Phil Jackson is second with 823. … Murray entered the game averaging 18.9 points, 8.4 rebounds and 8.1 assists — all career highs -– and has a double-double in five of his last six games. … Josh Primo, who turns 19 on Dec. 24, hit back-to-back 3s in the second quarter. Only Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady and LeBron James had multiple 3-pointers in a game at a younger age. Primo finished with six points. … Devin Vassell missed his second straight game after suffering a bruised right thigh against Atlanta on Nov. 24. … Doug McDermott missed his fourth straight game with an inflamed right knee.
Wizards forward Kyle Kuzma had 13 points, five rebounds and three assists. While that's average for his scoring this season, his rebounding (9.2) and defense has fueled the Wizards’ hot start.
Unseld admitted Kuzma’s rebounding and defense has been a pleasant surprise.
“With him playing the 4, it gives us that flexibility to diversify who’s handling and the combinations of how we play. I think it’s boded well for him," Unseld said of the man who was primarily a scorer for the Lakers. "His ability to stretch the defense has been kind of who he is or what people know, but there is an added dimension. I think the rebounding comes with it.”
Wizards: At Toronto on Sunday.
Spurs: At Portland on Thursday.