WASHINGTON (AP) — Washington Wizards point guard John Wall considered it a slap in the face that the Memphis Grizzlies would hold out so many important players against his team.
“They sit ’em, and I don’t know the reason why,” Wall said. “I think we’re a team that’s on the rise, and teams respect us now. And I guess they don’t respect us.”
Taking advantage of a watered-down version of the No. 2 team in the Western Conference, Wall finished with 21 points, seven rebounds and six assists Thursday night, leading the Wizards past the Grizzlies 107-87.
“We didn’t want to come out here,” Wall said, “and lose to their reserves.”
Yet that’s what the Wizards were doing early, trailing by as many as nine points in the opening quarter, which ended with Memphis ahead 33-26, despite missing starters Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph and Mike Conley and key reserve Tony Allen. Only Conley, who twisted his right ankle in a loss at Boston on Wednesday night, sat because of an injury.
The others were out because Grizzlies coach David Joerger wanted them to rest, something Wall called “shocking to see.”
So was the way the Wizards played at the start.
“Giving up 30 points in the first quarter, especially when they don’t have their two big, leading-scorer, All-Star guys in,” said Washington’s Paul Pierce, “was kind of embarrassing to us.”
But Wizards coach Randy Wittman switched to a small lineup, a unit that used turnovers to generate a 34-14 edge in the second quarter, essentially sealing the outcome.
A 16-2 run capped by Wall’s three-point play with 3 minutes remaining in the first half helped Washington lead 60-47.
The Wizards went up by 27 points in the third quarter, and wound up with a 27-14 edge in points off turnovers.
Joerger’s lineup included rookie JaMychal Green, Benoh Udrih and Kosta Koufos, a trio that entered the night having made a combined total of six starts this season.
“When you have three, four guys that are out — and by choice — some of the other guys are going to always kind of look over and go, ‘Well, what about me?'” Joerger said.
Memphis finished a road trip at 1-3 and Joerger is happy to be heading home after a stretch of 12 games in 19 nights.
“We’ve got some complacency going on,” he said. “Hopefully we’ve addressed that.”
As the playoffs approach, Joerger explained, “I’ve been trying to taper minutes back, kind of knowing the big-picture thing.”
Wittman’s take: So what if this victory was not against Memphis’ best?
“They’re not going to take it away from us,” he said.
Wizards G Bradley Beal was limping after the game. He said he had some pain in his right foot, but downplayed it, attributing the hitch in his step more to soreness and tightness in his legs and adding that he wouldn’t miss any time. “At this point of the year, everything hurts,” Beal said with a smile.
The game got chippy late in the third quarter, when Washington’s Kevin Seraphin was called for a flagrant-2 and ejected for knocking Jon Leuer to the court as the Grizzlies’ backup forward dunked. Earlier, Seraphin got tangled on the floor with Jarnell Stokes, which followed another bit of grabbing between Stokes and Marcin Gortat, who scored 22 points.
“It hurt initially, but I kind of fell on my back and side a little bit,” Leuer said.
Stokes, meanwhile, had this to say: “I feel like everywhere I go, I get into some kind of altercation. But I’m one of the nicest guys on the team.”
Grizzlies: Joerger on F Vince Carter: “He’s good with young guys. He’s good with old guys. He just has the mentality of, ‘What can I do to help?'”
Wizards: G Toure Murry, signed out of the D-League before the game, made his Wizards debut in the fourth quarter. … Beal was called for a flagrant-1 for elbowing Memphis’ Jordan Adams in the face, drawing blood.
Grizzlies: Host Milwaukee on Saturday.
Wizards: Host Sacramento on Saturday.
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