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Rose smells sweet for Spurs

11/16/2003

WASHINGTON (AP) -- It seemed like a fun moment when a chase for a
loose ball in the second quarter ended with Bruce Bowen in trainer
Will Sevening's lap on the San Antonio bench.

But the laughter turned to disbelief when Washington Wizards
guard Larry Hughes, called for a foul on the play, gave the ball an
underhand toss downcourt and was ejected.

The Spurs had just seized the momentum and were ahead by three
points, but Hughes was leading the Wizards in scoring at the time.
San Antonio, recovering from a lethargic first quarter at the end
of a road trip, went on to beat Washington 95-71 Saturday night.

"They thought Larry threw the ball at the official,"
Washington coach Eddie Jordan said. "I didn't think he did."

Before leaving the court, Hughes made a vain attempt to ask the
officials to look at the replay.

"I didn't throw it at him," Hughes said. "I think it was kind
of an overreaction to the situation. I lost my head for a second,
but I think the penalty was a little severe, to be ejected on the
ball being rolled down the court."

With the way the Spurs were playing defense, Hughes might not
have made a difference. The Wizards shot just 7-of-36 in the second
and third quarters.

Malik Rose finished with 23 points, and Tim Duncan had 17 points
and 13 rebounds as the Spurs finished 2-1 on their swing through
New Jersey, Philadelphia and Washington.

Rose was 10-for-15 from the field, scoring 15 points in the
second half. Jason Hart provided the biggest spark off the bench,
shooting 6-of-7 to finish with 12 points. San Antonio's bench
scored 47 points.

"For a quarter or two, we didn't defend very well," Duncan
said. "It's just a lesson for everybody to see that when we play
defense the right way, we can win games."

Gilbert Arenas scored 14 points on 4-for-19 shooting for the
Wizards, who have lost four straight. Hughes had 10 points before
he was ejected.

"We're not paranoid; we're not panicking," Jordan said. "I
really had confidence in what we tried to plan -- and it worked for
one quarter."

The Spurs were totally out of sorts in the opening 12 minutes,
committing seven turnovers to Washington's one. During the final
3:33, they scored just two points, were called twice for traveling,
had two shots blocked and once tried to play defense with just four
men on the court.

When Tony Parker realized he was supposed to be the fifth man,
he ran onto the court and drew a technical. By then, Arenas had
found the huge gap in the defense and hit an easy jumper.

Coach Gregg Popovich said Parker didn't realize his substitute
had not entered the game.

"Tony just walked off the court," Popovich said with a laugh.
"He's French -- he can't get it all right."

The Spurs regrouped and opened the second quarter with an 18-4
run, mostly with Duncan on the bench, to take the lead for good.

San Antonio stepped up its defense even more in the third
quarter, forcing bad shots and taking advantage on the fast break.
Arenas was 1-for-7 from the field in the quarter, while Duncan had
three blocks and nine points to help build a 70-49 lead going into
the fourth.

After that, the only suspense was whether the Wizards would
become the latest team to set a record for a franchise-low number
of points. They avoided the mark when Jared Jeffries' dunk got the
score to 67 with 4:19 to play.

Game Notes: Popovich said guard Anthony Carter, on the injured list with knee tendinitis, is expected to resume practicing Monday. The status of Ron Mercer (inflamed left ankle) is less certain. "He
just seems to still have some pain," Popovich said. ... Facing a
lineup with two 7-footers, Washington coach Eddie Jordan started
Brendan Haywood at center instead of Christian Laettner, who had a
flare-up of back spasms. Haywood had barely played the previous
five games after starting the first three of the season. ...
Washington's Etan Thomas got the game's third technical for arguing
a foul call in the fourth quarter. ... Jordan coached in an
all-black outfit. "Bill Fitch used to do that when I was a
rookie," Jordan said. "We'd lose three in a row and he'd come in
all black."