Desmond Bane led the Grizzlies with 28 points, Ja Morant chipped in with 23 points, nine rebounds, and six assists, and the team hung on to defeat the Washington Wizards 103-97 on Sunday. The teams traded leads early in the fourth quarter after Washington made a comeback in the third. Morant scored six points during a rally by Memphis, and the Grizzlies held on to earn their third consecutive victory.
“Outside of the third quarter, I thought our offense really impacted our defense,” Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins said. “In the third quarter, we just got stagnant. Some missed shots that turned into transition for them.”
Bradley Beal was absent due to health and safety regulations, which reduced Washington’s output by 21.6 points and 5.7 assists. Bane made 9 of his 16 field goal attempts, compared to Morant’s nine of his 27 attempts. On 7 of 8 shots, Brandon Clarke scored 16 points. For the Wizards, Morris scored 18 points, while Hachimura led a comeback with 15 points in the third quarter. Will Barton and Kyle Kuzma each score 12 points in the end?
“I do like our competitive spirit,” Wizards coach Wes Unseld Jr. said. “You win three of four quarters. You played relatively well. You had great looks down the stretch that would have opened the game a little bit for us.”
Beal played on Friday, when the Wizards lost to Brooklyn by 42 points, while Memphis defeated Charlotte by 31 points. However, the Grizzlies’ offense sputtered to start the game on Sunday, giving the Wizards a head start.
The Turnaround by the Grizzlies
Due to Wizards center Kristaps Porzingis (10 points) sitting out the first half of the second quarter with two fouls, Memphis recovered to defeat Washington 33-18. However, in contrast to Brooklyn’s defeat, where the Nets took over the game in the second half, Washington came out of the break with new energy, wiping out most of Memphis’ 23-point advantage. Before the Grizzlies took back control in the fourth, Hachimura made all four shots to tighten the game.
“We’ve got pride in everything,” Morris said, reflecting on the Brooklyn loss. “We didn’t want the same result to happen. …We spoke about it prior to going out for the second half, knowing that is kind of where we let the (Brooklyn) game get away from us.”
However, Bane believes that the Grizzlies’ maturity may have been on display in the final seconds. He said that had the Wizards not jumped into the lead, the outcome might have been different in the past.
“I think a younger Grizzlies team might have found a way to lose that game,” Bane said. “Not able to close it. We’re obviously young, but many of our guys on the floor towards the end of the game played together before and have experience, so we were able to weather the storm.”