Rally too little, too late after another cold start
MEMPHIS — Some habits just won’t go away.
The Washington Wizards have a knack of slowly coming out of the gates to start the NBA season. Now, even with a new coach and eight new players, they are following that familiar refrain.
In their season opener, the Wizards flatlined in the fourth quarter, the way they had through last year. On Sunday night against the Memphis Grizzlies, however, Washington made it interesting: climbing back from an early double-digit deficit, showing life in the fourth quarter before giving up a game-tying 3-pointer and wilting in the extra period.
The games looked different, but the trend continued as Washington fell, 112-103, in overtime and matched an 0-2 start from the 2013-14 season.
Though Washington’s starters each finished in double figures (John Wall with 22 points and 13 assists and Marcin Gortat with 14 points and 12 rebounds), for the second consecutive game, that unit spent the closing moments on the bench.
Grizzlies starters Tony Allen and Chandler Parsons as well as a rotational big, Brandan Wright, are out with injuries. Memphis has filled those vacancies with former Development League player JaMychal Green and 2015 draft pick Jarell Martin in the starting lineup. Rookie Wade Baldwin IV and another player in his second season, Andrew Harrison, come off the bench.
Even more, the Grizzlies played Sunday on the second night of a back-toback. The Wizards were not just getting a skeleton Home opener crew as an opponent, but one that should have been fatigued. But none of that mattered as Washington opened the game.
In light of the loss in Atlanta, coach Scott Brooks has preached offensive spacing. But in the first quarter against the Grizzlies, spacing wasn’t the problem: The Wizards shot 2 of13 for15.3 percent.
Though Washington’s shooting percentage stayed in the freezer, their tempers did not. After Markieff Morris picked up a second foul at the 8:34 mark, he snapped at an official and received a technical foul. Morris had to be ushered off the floor by assistant Chad Iske, then tossed his mouthpiece towards the scorers’ table, hitting a Wizards’ public relations employee in the chest.
The emotions continued to boil over in the second quarter when Wall complained about a lack of a foul call and picked up another technical foul.
Washington had an 8point lead in the fourth quarter, but the Grizzlies pulled within 98-97 with 24 seconds left. Though Marc Gasol fouled Wall to send him to the line for two free throws, he made up for the mistake by nailing the game-tying 3 in the closing seconds.
In overtime, Memphis scored 12 straight, including another 3-pointer by Gasol, who finished with 20 points.
Bradley Beal had 14 points and Otto Porter Jr. added 13 for the Wizards.