Marc Gasol hit a three pointer with 12 seconds remaining in regulation to force overtime and hit two more in overtime as the Grizzles knocked off the Wizards 112-103. The Wizards are now 0-2 on the season, even though all five Wizards starters scored in double figures in the loss, led by John Wall with 22 points and 13 assists.
The Wizards, coming off two days of rest, started this game like the team on the second half of a back-to-back. The Wiz started the game 2-13 from the field and only scored seven points through the first six minutes of the game. Timely field goals from Otto Porter midway through the first quarter helped them settle in as the Wizards trailed by five, 27-22 after the first quarter.
The reserves did the starters no favors as the Grizzles started the second quarter on a 9-1 run behind 3 threes from Vince Carter. The Grizzles would stay hot from three point range stretching the lead to 15 before Scott Brooks was forced to burn another timeout to settle things down. John Wall checked in three minutes into the second quarter and it changed the course of the half. Wall attacked the hole on consecutive possessions; getting bumped on both shot attempts but without a foul called. Wall would get a technical foul after barking at the referee for not getting a foul call.
The technical foul lit a fire under Wall, leading him to attack the hole more rather than settle for jumpers. At one point he earned back-to-back and-one opportunities to help get the Wizards back into the game. The WallStar notched a double-double (13 points, 10 assists) by halftime as the Wizards were able to cut the deficit to four, 58-54.
The lead would seesaw back and forth in the third quarter, thanks in part to a hot start from Markieff Morris, who scored the first two buckets of the quarter. The Wizards took the lead for a short time during the frame, but the Grizzles would hold on to a one point lead, 78-77, entering the fourth quarter.
The Wizards used a combination of easy buckets and free throws on a 9-0 run to pull out to a 96-88 with less than four minutes left, but it didn’t hold up. Mike Conley scored seven straight points to help the Grizzlies get back into the game, and then with time winding down in regulation, Marc Gasol knocked down a three pointer (his second of the game at that point) to tie the game and force overtime.
The overtime was one to forget. Gasol hit two more three pointers as the Grizzles opened up a ten-point, 110-100 lead. Washington didn’t score until the final 30 seconds of overtime, after both teams had emptied their benches.
The Wizards lost a winnable game 112-103 and fall to 0-2 for the season. Here’s what we noticed in the loss:
The bench has issues
The Wizards were down by four points late in the first quarter, 24-20, when Scott Brooks started subbing in the reserves. The Grizzlies pounced on them, mainly from three point range as the Grizzles stretched the lead to 15 just minutes into the second quarter. Once again, the second unit struggled to score and was never able to get into much of a rhythm.
Brooks switched things up in the second half staggering starters with reserves and the results were much better. The Wizards stayed competitive and were able to regain the lead several times as the lead seesawed back and forth. Even through two games, it’s pretty clear that Brooks must stagger the reserves with the starters rather than playing all five backups at once.
Three point shooting is a problem
The Wizards shot a horrific 5-25 (25 percent) from three point range and one of those three pointers came after the game got out of hand in overtime. Porter, Nicholson, and Oubre missed all 10 of their collective attempts tonight while Beal and Wall combined to go 3-11 from deep.
It’s clear that three point shooting might be a problem for this team going forward. If several players don’t step up, it could cost the Wizards several games down the road.
The free-throw shooting is better
The Wizards lost numerous games last season due to poor free-throw shooting. You can’t chalk up tonight’s loss to free-throws. In a game where the Wizards struggled from three point range (5-25), the team made up for it by shooting 22-25 from the charity stripe. Marcin Gortat was a perfect 10-10 from the line. Wall and Beal hit all of their free throw attempts as well.
If the Wizards continue to struggle from three point range, they’ll need to continue to shoot well and often at the free throw line to compensate.