Washington Wizards 3 Takeaways: Wizards Close Out Memphis Grizzlies In Bizarre Finish
Washington Wizards were seconds away from spoiling their 13th straight victory at home against the Memphis Grizzlies, but managed to close it out.
For the most part – not counting the disappointing start to the season – the Washington Wizards have lacked #SoWizards moments in the 2016-17 campaign.
But on Wednesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies, the Wizards were seconds away from having a historical #SoWizards moment.
Washington led by double-digits for most of the first half, showing their dominance at home against the consistently productive Grizzlies.
Behind John Wall‘s distribution, the Wizards led by 18 points and appeared to be coasting to their 13th straight victory inside the Verizon Center.
Slowly, as the Grizzlies prefer it, Washington’s offense stagnated.
The Wizards scored 30 points in the first quarter and followed it up with an even better scoring output in the second with 36.
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But in the third quarter, right after the Grizzlies got done making halftime adjustments, their offense became muddy,.
Washington scored just 17 points in the third quarter and the Grizzlies cut their lead to single digits.
In the fourth quarter, with just seconds remaining, the Grizzlies managed to trim the deficit to just two.
Despite struggling late in the game, the Wizards had what should’ve been the final possession.
Instead of calling a foul, the official blew his whistle in favor of the Grizzlies, calling a jump-ball.
As the Wizards’ luck would have it, the Grizzlies won the jump-ball, giving themselves one more opportunity to tie the game with a 3-point shot.
Mike Conley maneuvered his way around the Wizards’ defenders and found James Ennis wide open behind the arc. Ennis clanked the shot off the front of the rim, ending the Grizzlies’ hopes of beating the Wizards in overtime again this season.
It wasn’t a pretty win, but it’s a win regardless.
The Wizards came out on top, 104-101, and will take on the New York Knicks on Thursday night on national television (TNT).
Here are the three takeaways from Wednesday’s win.
1) John Wall is the East’s best guard
We’re living in the golden age of point guards.
Virtually every competitive team in the NBA has an All-Star caliber point guard, it seems. Getting a point guard that truly separates himself from the rest of the group is almost impossible.
But the Washington Wizards have one of those special point guards in John Wall – one that’s clearly better than the rest.
Wall probably won’t be the starting point guard for the Eastern Conference All-Star team, but he’s certainly the best. At this point, I’m not even sure it’s debatable.
Against the Grizzlies, Wall showed again why he’s unstoppable, even against Mike Conley, who signed the league’s most lucrative contract this past summer.
Wall lit the Grizzlies up for 25 points and 13 assists.
— Hoop District (@HoopDistrictDC) January 19, 2017
It’s not like he’s just putting up 20+ points and 10+ assists on a nightly basis – no, that’s not enough for John Wall.
He’s doing it like it’s a showcase against one of the best defensive teams in the league.
He put Marc Gasol to sleep after slowing down mid-fastbreak, turned around and laid the ball in with about two minutes remaining in the game. It wasn’t a casual play at all, yet Wall made it seem that way.
Wall might not get the credit he deserves, but he got some MVP chants at the free throw line against the Grizzlies.
To the casual fan – and probably some who even watch or cover the Washington Wizards – Bradley Beal is considered the best 3-point shooter in the district.
He’s earned that reputation, having become one of the franchise leaders in 3-point shooting.
But this season, Porter has led the Wizards in 3-point shooting percentage (it’s important to note that he attempts about three less than Beal per game, so that can skew the average).
He’s become one of the league’s most efficient low-usage players.
Against the Grizzlies, Porter knocked down four 3-point shots in the first quarter and set the tone for the Wizards offensively.
He’s firing away from deep with no hesitation, which is something he struggled with early in his NBA career.
More importantly, in the fourth quarter, Porter made a 3-point shot late to extend the Wizards’ lead and essentially seal the victory (before the breakdown with seconds remaining).
Porter made a career-high six three point shots on Wednesday. He scored 25 points on 9 of 12 shooting from the field. Porter had 17 points at halftime.
Given how often both Wall and Beal shoot, it’s going to be difficult to expand Porter’s role offensively, but Scott Brooks has to find a way to get him more looks from deep. He’s never been more confident and his percentages reflect it.
There’s no question that Markieff Morris is one of the most talented players on the Washington Wizards’ roster.
His stability and consistency, however, has always hindered him from becoming the player most thought he’d be out of Kansas.
Over the course of the season, Morris has seen his field goal percentage rise significantly. He shot less than 40 percent in November and is making over half of his shots this month.
His ability to create his own shot is almost uncanny. The Wizards don’t have anyone who can fill that role, which is the reason Brooks has stunted Morris’ minutes, allowing him to become a go-to option with the second unit.
Against the Grizzlies, Morris scored 17 points and grabbed 12 rebounds.
Beal scored just 12 points on the night, so the Wizards needed Morris’ offensive output. He also stole the ball late in the game, which led to the Wizards cutting time off the clock.
Unfortunately, Morris picked up five fouls again and Brooks was forced to play Jason Smith late in the contest.
He dove onto Gasol late, attempting to steal the ball, but his fifth foul could’ve been avoided if he thought about the circumstance. Instead of diving for the steal, it would’ve been more prudent if he played on-ball defense and secured the defensive rebound.
Still, without his performance, the Washington Wizards wouldn’t have beaten the Grizzlies on Wednesday.