TV: Comcast SportsNet
Only a few seats down from the Washington Wizards' bench, owner Ted Leonsis sat courtside with Nationals owner Mark Lerner as his team hosted the San Antonio Spurs at Verizon Center.
Lerner has already built a franchise from the bottom up, invigorated a fan base, and brought hope for a brighter future for baseball in this area. Leonsis' plans to do the same with his local basketball team appear to be stuck in neutral or headed in reverse, depending on your perspective.
Stone-faced as he looked on until the bitter end, Leonsis witnessed a Spurs clinic in ball movement, precision and execution as his team fumbled and folded in its most lopsided loss of the season, 118-92. He trailed the players as they headed through the tunnel, walking off the court to a chorus of boos.
"We got beat by a team that I'd like someday for us to be able to play like," coach Randy Wittman said after the Wizards became the 12th team in NBA history to open a season with 12 consecutive losses.
The Wizards also joined the Memphis Grizzlies as the only team to open a season with 12 straight losses after losing eight in a row to start the previous season. They are a long way from resembling the Spurs, a perennial contender that has now defeated them 13 straight times, dating to 2005. San Antonio led by 29 points midway through the fourth quarter.
"That's how the game was invented, to play and have fun. You can tell they are having fun," rookie guard Bradley Beal said.
"You see us, we're down. We're moping. We're pouting. We're not together as a unit and things need to change."
This wasn't supposed to be the season that the Wizards shattered franchise futility marks and struggled mightily just to claim one victory. But they had little chance to get their first win with John Wall still sidelined with a stress injury in his left knee and Nene back on the shelf after playing in the previous two games because of complications with his problematic left foot.
Wittman said Nene, who missed three months of action and is using his comeback to regain his conditioning, was too sore after logging 29 minutes in a double-overtime loss to the Charlotte Bobcats on Saturday and decided to let him rest. Shaun Livingston, who started the previous two games at point guard, also sat, with a sore right shoulder.
"In this locker room, this is what we have. We can't look to anywhere for help," Martell Webster said after scoring 16 points.
"Our all-around effort was not up to par. We have to be better. There is no excuses, nothing I can say. Guys continued to play hard, but overall, it was embarrassing."
Jordan Crawford had a game-high 19 points and Kevin Seraphin added 18 but the Wizards couldn't contend with a Spurs team that was too deep, battle-tested and talented to slip up against an inferior and mentally fatigued foe.
The Wizards lost their previous two games to Atlanta and Charlotte by a combined three points and neither loss was determined until after regulation.
None of the Wizards' previous 11 losses had been by more than 16 points, but point guard A.J. Price said the team continues to compete for its coach. "He's doing a great job, in my opinion. It may not seem like it because we don't have any wins to show for it, but ... he's coming in every day upbeat, positive. That's all you can ask from him. We haven't given up on him."
They were simply overmatched against San Antonio (12-3), which has won four in a row overall. The Wizards had a little inside information on the Spurs, with new assistant Don Newman having spent the previous seven years in San Antonio and winning two championships.
But even the added support could not help them slow down a machine that got 32 assists on 45 field goals and had seven different players score in double figures.