Tonight’s 125–111 loss began with five consecutive Russell Westbrook assists — he was involved in the team’s first 21 points (nine of which he scored). Despite an impressive start that saw Washington lead by as many as eight, Memphis went on a streak of their own (11–3) and forced a Scott Brooks timeout with the sides locked at 21 apiece. After being the victim of stingy refereeing, Bradley Beal got his first foul call at the 4:28 mark. With Westbrook (23, six and 15) leading the way, Washington ended the first frame down two.
A sloppy start to the second saw five points — all Washington — scored in the first 2:30. Westbrook’s eighth, and prettiest assist, came in the middle of the second: he pointed at Robin Lopez in the paint and spun after fizzing a one-handed pass to the center, who effortlessly scored an uncontested two. Things started to deteriorate after that dime; Memphis scored eight straight to take a four-point lead. It was all about turnovers for D.C. (14 in the first 24 minutes) from then on, with the Grizzlies humiliating the Wizards to the tune of a 27–8 run to end the half. Memphis jogged into the locker room with a 15-point lead.
Some roster-shuffling — Isaac Bonga, Rui Hachimura and Lopez started the third alongside Beal and Westbrook — seemed to energize the Wizards, who started the period with six unanswered points. A promising start, however, quickly evaporated; Memphis frustrated the home side and stretched their lead to 18 before Brooks called for a stoppage. The game started to slip away from Washington in the third — the Grizzlies led by as many as 23 points and ended the quarter ahead, 96–78.
Ultimately, the Wizards couldn’t overcome the self-placed hurdles set in the third. What sank Washington tonight: turnovers (22) and poor three-point shooting (35.5 percent). Credit Memphis’ suffocating defense, led by Dillon Brooks (20 points), for a job well done keeping Beal to a modest, by his standards, 23, six and five. Ja Morant had a game-high 35 points and 10 assists, while De’Anthony Melton added 20 off the bench.