Bradley Beal piled up points, the most in any game of the second-year guard's NBA career. Yet except for portions of the second half, the perimeter threat didn't receive much offensive help. Even though the Washington Wizards rallied from a 16-point deficit, the comeback did not lead to winning in Memphis.
Beal scored a career-high 37 points with five 3-pointers, but the Wizards dropped their penultimate game before the All-Star break, 92-89 to the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday night. Washington (25-26) has lost three of four games and failed in its latest attempt to post a winning record.
Nene scored 17 points including seven of Washington's final nine points as his free throw with 23 seconds remaining made the score 91-89. Beal sank 15 of 24 shots overall, but he missed a potential game-tying jumper with 12 seconds left. Following a Zach Randolph free throw, Washington could not free Beal on its final possession. John Wall, who finished with a season-low five points during a listless outing, missed a 3-pointer.
Beal sizzled early, making all four of his first quarter field goal attempts, his first five overall and 8 of 10 in the first half for 19 points. He tacked on another 10 in the fourth quarter, though he missed his final three shots. At one point late in the game his 37 points matched the output from Washington's other starters.
The Grizzlies (28-23) were led by 18 points each from Marc Gasol and Nick Calathes, who filled in at point guard for the injured Mike Conley Jr.(ankle).
The Wizards trailed 52-39 at halftime and 64-48 in the third quarter when a Marcin Gortat-Beal fueled run cut Memphis' lead to 70-66. Washington kept up the comeback in the fourth and took an 82-80 lead on Nene's jumper with 5:46 left. Calathes scored the next five points to put Memphis in front for good.
Apparently the Wizards' backcourt likes setting career-highs against Memphis. Wall scored a personal-best 47 on March 23 against the Grizzlies. On this night, he finished 2 of 10 from the field with five assists and four turnovers.
Gortat made all four of his field goal attempts for 10 points, but he only played 22 minutes due to early foul trouble.
Turning point: Down 16 points with 7:49 remaining in the third, Gortat and Beal scored 16 of the Wizards' final 22 points in the quarter. Washington didn't take the lead in that stretch and trailed 79-70 entering the fourth, but the spark remained. The Wizards scored the opening six points of the final period and it was game-on from there.
First half: Forward James Johnson scored six points of his 13 points during a 12-2 second quarter run as Memphis opened a 40-30 lead with 4:16 before halftime. Gasol's jumper closed the first half scoring and gave the Grizzlies their largest lead at 52-39.
Beal and Nene shot 12 of 18 before halftime while their teammates finished 4 of 19. Wall had two points on 1 of 4 shooting with one assist. Gortat played limited minutes after picking up three fouls and the Grizzlies took advantage inside, outscoring Washington in the paint 28-10.
Odds and ends: After recently receiving a bump in his minutes limit from 30 to 34, Beal played 37 against Memphis. He told reporters following the loss that the new limit was 36 so he went an extra 49 seconds in this one. ... Beal finished 5 of 7 on his 3-point attempts. His teammates went 2 of 17. ...Trevor Ariza scored 10 points, but missed five of six from beyond the arc. ...Washington's bench scored only 10 points while the Grizzlies received 23 from their reserves. Martelll Webster, who scored three points, limped around for a portion of the second half and played only three minutes in the fourth quarter.
They said it: "You can't cheat the game. We cheated the game. We've talked about this over and over again. Until our guys not to decide to take nights off, quarters off - we took a half off tonight. We continually do it. [The other] team is shorthanded. We don't respect the game. That's the bottom line. There is nothing else to it. Until you learn that and take that to heart, there are going to be games just like this." - Wizards coach Randy Wittman
Up next: The Wizards are in Houston Wednesday for a matchup with the Rockets in their final game before the All-Star break. (CSN, 8 p.m. ET).