Nick Calathes and Marc Gasol led the Grizzlies to a 92-89 win over the Washington Wizards on Tuesday night. Calathes finished the game with 18 points on 8-12 shooting, grabbed a career high 7 rebounds, dished out 6 assists and reached two steals, all while holding Eastern Conference All Star John Wall to 5 points. Calathes also had a team net +/- at +10. Gasol added 18 and 7 as well.
The Grizzlies (28-23) went into the half up 52-39 on the Wizards (25-26). Bradley Beal had 19 first half points on 8-10 shooting, 3-3 from deep. He would follow it up with 18 points in the second half tying the single game scoring high for a Grizzlies’ opposing player with 37 (Kevin Durant scored 37 on 1/14/14). Beal would score a career high against the Grizzlies marking the second time in as many games the Grizzlies have allowed a Wizards player to score a career high. John Wall scored a career high 47 against the Grizzlies last season in Washington.
The Grizzlies dominated the paint in the first half scoring 28 points to Washington’s 10. Martin Gortat only played 5 minutes due to foul trouble. Trevor Booker nor Kevin Seraphin would be of help alongside NeNe, as the Grizzlies limited the Wizards post players to 5-15 shooting for 11 points and 8 rebounds. Memphis seemed to be headed to a relatively easy win, where the starters could rest up for a quick turnaround game Wed night in Orlando. However, as Lee Corso would say “not so fast, my friend.”
The third quarter opened up with the Grizzlies expanding the lead to 16 just 3 min in, however, the Wizards began getting it into the paint, and when they weren’t doing that, they set up plays to pick Courtney Lee off Bradley Beal who seemingly could not miss. Gortat’s beefed up physical frame was tough for Marc to battle and NeNe abused Zach Randolph on the block on both ends. In the third quarter, Gortat and NeNe would combine for 12 points and 5 rebounds while limiting Memphis’ bigs to 6 points and 2 rebounds. Trevor Ariza and Bradley Beal added 17 for the Wizards in the 3rd while Lee and Calathes scored 16. However, the Wizards outscored the Grizzlies 12-2 in the paint and shot 11-15 for the quarter. The Grizzlies gave up 31 points to the Wizards in the 3rd. The lead shrunk to four points at 73-69 before 3 consecutive scores had the Grizzlies leading 79-70 at the end of the quarter.
The Wizards just wouldn’t go away. Offensively, neither team could really get anything going to start the fourth. The Grizzlies tried to get ZBO scoring against NeNe, but NeNe would have none of that. Randolph ISO plays yielded nothing for the big fella on the block as ZBO would not make a FG in the 2nd half and ended the game with 13 points (4-11FG, 0-4 in 2nd half) and 10 boards. NeNe however, scored 7 of the Wizards 19 fourth qtr points. His baseline jumper with 5:46 to go in the game put the Wizards up 82-80 capping a 36-18 run over 15 minutes of game play. The Grizzlies only mustered 1 point off of a James Johnson FT in 6:16 seconds of play. However, Nick Calathes would score 5 straight followed by 2 Randolph free throws to put the Grizzlies up 87-82, and they never looked back. The Wizards had a shot to tie to game with 11 seconds left after a ZBO free throw circled the rim three times and fell out. However, a well defended inbounds pass caused a mishandled pass from NeNe to John Wall, leading to a Wall fadeaway off balance missed 3.
Announced attendance for the game was 15,613.
1. Coach Joerger excelled in his first half rotations. However, the second half got away from him fast. He didn’t make a substitution until 3:17 seconds left in the 3rd quarter. Then in the 4th quarter with the lead dwindling, he played the same lineup for the final 7 minutes of the game. Joerger told us after the game that he knew the risk involved but decided to ride those guys anyway, because the win was important.
2. Marc Gasol stepped up and was more aggressive. After being clobbered on social media and the radio Monday for his lack of aggressiveness, Gasol stepped up and produced in crucial moments including a big shot from the top of the key with 26 seconds left. He ended up with 18 points on 7-11 shooting. Grabbed 7 boards had 3 assists and 2 steals. That’s the kind of production the Grizzlies need from him night in and night out with or without Mike Conley in the lineup. If he has the open shot, take it.
3. Zach Randolph struggled with the size and bigger body of NeNe, but that’s not really an issue. He was due for a game like this. Even on his “off nights” he still ends up with a double-double. ZBO has been playing some really good basketball this season. Maybe he believes this is a contract year for him (even though he has an option) and wants to show the Grizzlies’ front office why they should keep him around a few more years, provided he declines the option. It’s paid off, in my opinion. Seems like ZBO trade rumors are dying down and being denied. Looks as if ZBO may end up retiring a Grizz, after all.
4. Courtney Lee ended the game 5-12 and 1-7 from deep. It seems the ankle injury suffered in Cleveland may have been causing him some issues because on most of his shots he was wide open and they just weren’t falling. He looked a little uncomfortable on the release. He also struggled defending Bradley Beal, which is uncharacteristic of the Courtney Lee we’ve seen. Maybe the ankle was slowing him down just enough to be a step behind Beal off the screens. As for most of the team, Lee could use a few days off to rest his body.
5. Tayshaun Prince was 3-4 tonight, for 7 points grabbed a couple of boards and made some good passes. After the game in the locker room, he was not interviewed. Every other starter was interviewed by the media, in addition to James Johnson and a bench guy, but Tayshaun didn’t get any love. He’s a veteran, so I’m sure he can handle this, but it is heart-breaking to see it happen. I almost interviewed him tonight out of pity and because he had a pretty good game (though he was -6). I’m getting soft, I know. Yet, I know these guys are human just like us. They know what people think. I can’t imagine he is happy right now (until he gets that paycheck, then all is right, or wrong, in the world). I hope he can make worthwhile contributions when on the court because I do not feel he will be traded and we need him to produce a little more to be a deep threat to any team in the playoffs.
6. James Johnson had his 16th blocked three pointer this season, in 28 games. He continues to be the energy guy. He attacks the rim (10 FTAs), makes things happen offensively, gets into passing lanes, grabs rebounds, does the small things and stuffs the stat sheets. Grizzlies are now 18-10 with James Johnson on the team.
7. Nick Calathes. What else can we say about this guy? He has definitely taken advantage of his opportunity. Once again his defense shined, holding John Wall to 5 points. He had help from the wing players and Gasol, but part of the game is knowing how to force your opponent into help defense. In addition Calathes knows his defenders will back off of him and he wants to make them pay for it with his shot. Nick is starting to take advantage of his defender leaking over to play help defense on Randolph or Gasol which frees him up to cut to the basket for easy buckets. He is shooting 15-21 in the last two games. This only bodes well for the Grizzlies when Mike Conley comes back to the starting lineup after the All Star Break.
8. The Grizzlies won tonight in spite of giving up a career high 37 points to Bradley Beal, only scoring 13 fourth quarter points and turning the ball over 19 times. You can’t expect to win many (any?) games when doing that, but the Grizzlies got it done tonight.
9. Let’s hope the Magic are a little cold shooting heading into Wednesday’s game. They have had Monday and Tuesday off after beating Indiana, OKC and Detroit in back to back to back games at home.
10. After the Grizzlies loss to Cleveland on Sunday night, social media was in a tizzy. The Grizzlies started the day 3 games back of seed 6-8. However after a win tonight, they now sit 2 games behind 7-8 seeded Phoenix and Dallas. A win against Orlando, a loss by Dallas @ Indiana and a loss by Golden State to Miami would put the Grizzlies 1 game back of the 8th seed and 2 games back of the 6/7 seeds. So everyone relax. Breathe in. It will all be ok. It’s amazing what 48 hours can do for a team and fan base!