The Washington Wizards scored less in the second and third quarters combined than they did in the first Friday in an 85-76 road loss to the new look Memphis Grizzlies. Marc Gasol led Memphis with 13 points, 15 rebounds, and 5 assists, while reserve forward Tayshaun Prince chipped in 14 points in his Grizzlies debut. Nene led the Wizards with 14 points and 6 rebounds in defeat.
After opening the game with a 30-point first quarter on 13-for-21 from the field shooting (0.619), the Wizards went a dismal 5-for-23 in the second (.217), in perhaps the worst second quarter of NBA basketball this season. The Grizzlies went 6-for-20 (.300), and with their 16-10 second quarter advantage trailed Washington 40-39 at half.
The Wizards continued to struggle in the third, as they fell 22-16. Memphis guard Jerryd Bayless scored 6 of his 11 points in the period as the Grizzlies shot an even 9-for-18 (.500) from the field. Despite a 30-point start, the Wizards scored only 26 points over the second and third quarters combined.
Down 61-56 after three, Washington had plenty of time for a comeback. An early push by Jordan Crawford helped the Wizards cut the deficit down to 1 point, but the Grizzlies battled back. A jumper by Prince gave Memphis their biggest lead of the night at 10 points--a 19-point swing--with 1:11 left in regulation.
The Wizards didn't have anyone other than Nene in double-figures at the end of the night, yet Emeka Okafor collected another 10 rebounds. The 8-year-pro has achieved double-digits in rebounding over his last four starts. Rookie Bradley Beal continues to sit out due to his sore right wrist and has now missed two straight games. Beal was named Eastern Rookie of the Month for the month of January despite the late injury, which makes it two months in a row for the former Florida Gator.
Beal averaged only 8 points per game for Washington over his last five games prior to sitting out the last two, and this Wizards funk isn't all about the absence of Beal. Other factors may include poor substitutions. A recent mid-season report by NBA.com graded Head Coach Randy Wittman with an F, a rather harsh diagnosis, but one that is validated. Will any other team start Earl Barron this season? Will Chris Singleton ever play over 5 minutes?
The Wizards will look to get over their funk tonight at San Antonio as they take on the Spurs (8:30 p.m. ET, CSN).