Tayshaun Prince celebrated his first victory with the Memphis Grizzlies (30-16) as the Washington Wizards (11-34) fell 85-76 and slipped to 3-20 on the road.
The Wizards were neck-and-neck with the Grizzlies for the greater part of the first half, but it was in no way a testament to good defense or stellar shooting from either side. Both teams relied heavily on fast breaks throughout the first 24 minutes of play. Even still, the Wizards and Grizzlies struggled to find the net.
In the second quarter, however, Washington narrowly avoided a blow far more crushing than another tally in the loss column.
With 3:30 remaining in the first half, the Wizards clung to a 34-32 lead. John Wall lined up for the jumper and missed before the Grizzlies’ Zach Randolph grabbed the rebound. Shortly after, Wall fell on the court and winced in pain as he clutched his left shoulder and walked off.
Jordan Crawford entered the game to relieve Wall, who reportedly suffered a strained shoulder. His return was deemed questionable and, in his absence, the Wizards failed to add padding to their lead. Washington entered the half on top by the score of 40-39.
Surprisingly enough, the break provided enough rest time for Wall’s return. He started things off for the Wizards with a 20-foot jumper less than a minute into the third. In fact, only Wall contributed for the Wizards through the first four minutes of the third quarter.
Washington lucked out as Memphis continued to take poor shots and by the time Nene sunk a jumper of his own, the Wizards were up by four points.
Their lead was short-lived, however, as Jerryd Bayless sunk a 19-footer and Mike Conley made a seemingly effortless driving layup.
The Wizards failed to catch the Grizzlies the rest of the night as it appeared even Wall could not keep up with the pace of the game as he appeared to force breaks and struggled to sink his jumpers.
Wall sat the first nine minutes of the final quarter and, by the time he re-entered, the Wizards had dug a 78-72 hole.
Prince added four points to his total in Grizzlies’ uniform in the final minutes, while Conley and Tony Allen contributed free throws to close the book on Washington’s 85-76 loss.
By the end of the night, only Nene tallied double-digit points for the Wizards with 14, compared to a Grizzlies’ staff that featured five players with more than 10 points on the night.
Alyssa Wolice is a Contributor to District Sports Page. An American University alum, Alyssa worked as a political blogger and financial reporter before making the switch to sports journalism. As a former production assistant, she covered the Nationals, Redskins, Capitals, Wizards, D.C. United and local collegiate teams. A New Jersey native, Alyssa currently serves as a community and sports reporter for a number of small-town newspapers in her home state and works full-time as a marketing communications specialist with a trade association based in Washington, D.C. You can follow her on Twitter @awolice.