Dave Johnson: Grizzlies Close Out The Wizards

Dave Johnson: Grizzlies Close Out The Wizards
February 25, 2010, 2:37 am
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Wednesday, February 24, 2010 9:35pm

Grizzlies vs. Wizards Game Highlights
By Dave Johnson
CSNWashington.comWashington---The Memphis Grizzlies played the night before. It just didnt seem that way. Instead of fading in the fourth quarter, the Grizzlies surged and pulled away from the Washington Wizards for a 99-94 victory.Twenty four hours after losing an energy zapping one-point game to the Lakers, the Grizzlies stunned the Wizards by opening the final quarter on a 13- 2 run to break open a close game. It was a fourth quarter of hustle for the Grizzlies who had a 15-8 edge on the boards and a 13-4 advantage on second-chance points.In short that was the game. The Wizards shot 48 percent from the field and had 26 assists including seven each from Randy Foye and Mike Miller. Because of the Grizzlies second-chance opportunities in the fourth quarter they ended upwith ten more shot attempts and five more made field goals for the game than the Wizards.I think overall our effort level was good, noted Wizards head coach Flip Saunders. Memphis is a great rebounding team and we battled on the boards and led for most of the game until we went through that stretch to start the fourth quarter. I thought it was a good solid effort though.At the start of the fourth quarter the Wizards only trailed 69-68 when O.J. Mayo and the Grizzlies reserves took over. While the Wizards struggled to get off a quality shot, Mayo scored seven of his ten fourth quarter points in the opening run. Mayo finished with 17 points.The rest of the Grizzlies starters then joined Mayo to secure the victory. Zach Randolph led the Grizzlies with 22 points including a three-pointer from the corner to make it 98-84 with 1:53 remaining in the game. To the Wizards credit, they scrambled to put together an 8-0 run to help close the gap at the end.Marc Gasol was also a challenge for the Wizards as he scored 20 points on ten of eleven shooting from the field to help the Grizzlies amass 58 points in the paint.Andray Blatche led the Wizards in scoring for the fourth time in the last five games. While Blatche finished with 24-poiints, he had to continue to adjust to increased defensive pressure in his new role as the Wizards leading scorer. In fact in almost nine minutes played in the third quarter Blatche did not score and only attempted one shot.Andray is going through the learning process right now. I talked to Andray and told him that he has to learn how to make the easy play out, hit our guys and trust his teammates to make plays, Saunders said. Its the first time in five years that he has had someone trying to trap him with the ball. When you have never gone through that it can be a shock to start with but hell continue to get better as he does it.The Wizards were playing their first game without Josh Howard who suffered a torn ACL in his left knee in Mondays win over the Bulls. While clearly missing Howard as another option and someone who can help open up the floor for Blatche, the Wizards again received quality performances from their other newcomers.Al Thornton, now in the starting lineup in place of Howard, achieved a double-double with 16 points and eleven rebounds. Off the bench James Singleton and Quinton Ross are defensive lightning strikes. Singleton finished with four blocked shots to go with nine point and ten rebounds.What usually happens is that when you lose a player everyone steps into different roles, Saunders added. We liked Al (Thornton) off the bench because he gave us great pop, now he now has to be used in a starting situation. The guys are just adjusting to new roles.