The Washington Wizards are on the outside looking in for a spot in the Eastern Conference play-in tournament with time running out and can ill afford to lose to San Antonio when the Spurs make their annual visit on Friday to the nation's capital.
The Wizards (32-41) entered Thursday in 12th place, 2 1/2 games behind Chicago for the final play-in spot with nine regular-season games to play. San Antonio (19-54) has already been eliminated from postseason consideration.
Washington has swooned at the worst possible time, dropping seven of its past eight contests and four straight games. The Wizards' most recent outing was a 118-104 setback to West-leading Denver at home on Wednesday that was the second game of a road-home back-to-back.
Kristaps Porzingis led Washington with 25 points in the loss, with Deni Avdija adding 16 points with eight rebounds and six assists. The Wizards were down by 23 points early in the fourth quarter and closed to within 10 before Denver put its collective foot down with a 9-2 run that all but settled things.
"I feel like we collapsed pretty bad because of the turnovers," Avdija said. "I don't know what the reason for it was, but we (have) got to change. We (have) got to be more focused when we start the second half. It's happened to us a lot this year. And we gotta figure it out, to be honest."
Washington shot just 4-for-26 from beyond the arc, a season-worst 15.4 percent. Bradley Beal (left knee soreness) and Kyle Kuzma (right ankle) sat out the game with injuries.
"It's frustrating of course, but we can't control the circumstances," Wizards coach Wes Unseld Jr. said. "It's just more, how do we respond to the circumstances? That, to me, is more important."
The Spurs head to D.C. for the third of a four-game road trip that's begun with two blowout losses on back-to-back nights, losing 119-84 in New Orleans on Tuesday and taking a 130-94 walloping at the hands of East-leading Milwaukee on Wednesday.
Wednesday's defeat was San Antonio's fourth in its past five games. Devin Vassell paced the Spurs with 16 points in the loss while Keita Bates-Diop added 14 points, Jeremy Sochan scored 13 and Zach Collins and Sandro Mamukelashvili racked up 12 points and seven rebounds apiece in a game that San Antonio trailed by 15 points at the break and by double digits for the entire second half.
"That's the best team in the league," Sours coach Gregg Popovich said of the Bucks after the loss. "I would love to be able to play them every night. That would be great for our young kids to see how it gets done, how mistakes are made and what's important. It's always a good night for some reason."
The Spurs were without leading scorer Keldon Johnson (neck sprain) for the second straight game as well as Tre Jones, Doug McDermott, Devonte' Graham and Romeo Langford due to injuries. Each of those player's participation on Friday will be a game-time decision.
--Field Level Media