NBA.com Daily Confidential

Following a season-high three-game losing streak, the San Antonio Spurs have rebounded with three straight wins.

A renewed effort on defense seems to be responsible for the turnaround, but the Spurs are likely to receive a challenge when they face the high-scoring Washington Wizards at the AT&T Center on Saturday.

San Antonio (26-11) is coming off a 92-83 win over the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday. The Spurs shot just 42.9 percent from the free-throw line (9-of-21), and trailed by one at the half, but their defense excelled in holding the Nuggets to a season low in points and forcing 17 turnovers.

Manu Ginobili typified the Spurs' effort. He had 16 points on 6-for-14 shooting but also had a team-high four steals as San Antonio matched Dallas with its league-high 13th road win.

"I wasn't concerned about shooting. I was flat. I couldn't find my energy," Ginobili said. "So, I was more concerned about defense than my shooting. It wasn't just steals. It was also making them take tough shots. Nothing easy and everything contested."

Tony Parker had 26 points and Tim Duncan added 19 and 13 rebounds for San Antonio, which has held five of its last eight opponents to 90 points or less and ranks second in the league in scoring defense at 90.6 points per game.

San Antonio has played well against the Wizards, winning six straight at home and 10 of the last 13 overall, but Washington (20-15) has been playing well recently with its fast-paced, high-scoring offense.

The Wizards have won 16 of the last 22 games following a tough start, and their offense has been a key reason. Washington's 104-97 loss at New Orleans on Friday ended an 18-game streak of scoring at least 100 points.

Washington has averaged 109 points since Jan. 1, and its 107.9 average for the season is second only to Phoenix.

Gilbert Arenas had 23 points, but made two crucial mistakes in the final minutes that allowed the game to slip away. After helping the Wizards take the lead, the Hornets regained the lead before Arenas missed his next 3-point attempt and was called for an offensive foul on the team's next possession.

Washington would get as close as 100-97 on two free throws by DeShawn Stevenson with 19.6 seconds left.

Arenas, who averages 30.0 points, missed 12 of his first 15 shots and finished 5-for-19 from the field.

"It was just one of those nights," said Arenas, who has not been held under 30 points in three straight games since a five-game span from Nov. 21-28. "That happens. It's been a rare one for me lately."

He is just 17-for-54 (31.5 percent) in his last three games but has also made 36 of 41 free throws in that span. Last season, Arenas averaged 37.0 points in two contests against the Spurs, making 24 of 38 shots (63.2 percent).

Washington has lost three straight road games after winning six of the previous seven. That run came after the Wizards dropped their first eight road contests.


Copyright 2006 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited