Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports
The Memphis Grizzlies won an ugly one against the Washington Wizards in a game where John Wall injured his shoulder, then returned to the game.
If you watch these games for entertainment at this point, this one wasn't exactly your cup of tea. Playing against the Memphis Grizzlies is always a chore, and the Washington Wizards experienced that firsthand. The Grizzlies' defense completely halted the Wizards' offense, and Memphis hit just enough timely shots to come away with an 85-76 win.
The good news for the Wizards is that it doesn't look like John Wall is seriously hurt. The Wizards' star crumpled to the floor in pain with a left shoulder injury during the second quarter, but he ended up starting the second half. He looked mostly like himself in the third quarter before sitting for a good portion of the fourth. It remains to be seen if the injury will carry over to future games, but given that it looked like a really serious injury when it happened, the Wizards dodged a bullet.
The game started well, with the Wizards springing for 30 points in the first quarter. But truth be told, that was a bit of a mirage. The Wizards were able to sneak a bunch of transition hoops off their defense, and that helped pad their scoring numbers.
But once Memphis settled down and got into their pressure defense, the Wizards' offense had issues. The third quarter was especially infuriating because the Wizards would just dump the ball into Nene in the post, stand around and watch him try to do something. It's hard to get to the hoop on Memphis, but some weakside action would have helped.
The Wizards did occasionally get some hoops out of it. Nene was aggressive early in the fourth, and Kevin Seraphin made some nice post moves. But in the end, the predictability made them especially easy to defend. It might have been worthwhile to go small and try to spread Memphis out with speed, but Randy Wittman pounded away in the post instead.
The fourth quarter was pretty much the same story. The Wizards played tough defense, fought hard and hit a couple shots here and there, but their strategy just wasn't working. To be fair, the absence of Wall makes it tough to run a lot of your sets, but the Wizards still kept pounding away without enough weakside movement. Nene and Okafor are not going to score consistently against this Grizzlies frontcourt. Something else was definitely needed, because the more the Wizards went into the post, the more confused their other five players were and the worse their passes ended up being.
In the end, perhaps the biggest backbreaker was a contested jumper from Tayshaun Prince with two and a half minutes remaining. The Wizards played dogged defense and forced Prince to take a fadeaway 18-footer over Trevor Ariza'soutstretched arms with the shot clock about to expire ... and he hit it. After two decent Wizards misses, Tony Allengrabbed an offensive rebound and Prince hit another mid-range jumper to push the lead to 10. That officially sealed it.
The result ultimately wasn't that surprising. The Grizzlies are no fun to play against, especially when you have an offense this inept. The Wizards have to clean up their turnover issue, but lots of teams have issues controlling the ball against the Grizzlies.
Bottom line: at least Wall isn't seriously hurt.