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Wizards beat Grizzlies in Wall's return, 93-87
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John Wall returned to the lineup after missing the last nine games in the Wizards' 93-87 win over the Grizzlies. Wall scored 13 points and dished out four assists in his return in 27-plus minutes, while Bradley Beal led the Wizards with 18 points and seven assists. Returning from a 10-day, five-game road trip, the Wizards beat the Grizzlies with their defense. Six players scored in double figures for the shorthanded Wizards, who were missing Markieff Morris (hip) and Ian Mahinmi (knee) on Wednesday night. Both players are considered day-to-day with three games at home coming up.
The Wizards held the Grizzlies to only 12 points in the first quarter, Washington's best defensive quarter of the season. Memphis only shot 5-for-21 (23.8%) from the field and turned it over six times in the first quarter. All eyes were on Wall, who had a personal 9-0 run over 3:40 late in the second quarter. Otto Porter Jr. made it a 12-0 run to give the Wizards a 14-point lead, and the Wizards went into the half up 41-29. The 29 points is the lowest number of points the Wizards have given up in a half all season, and the fewest the team has given up in less than six years in the first half.
Washington opened up a 17-point lead at one point in the third quarter. Still, the Grizzlies dominated the third quarter, scoring 28 points in those 12 minutes after only 29 in the first half. Free throw issues plagued the Wizards all game, as they only made 12-of-24 (50.0%) shots from the free throw line. In the fourth quarter, the Wizards were able to turn on the jets and put away the Grizzlies, even after Memphis took their first and only lead of the game of 67-65 with 8:53 to go. The Wizards responded with a 13-0 run, with Beal scoring 11 of his 18 points in the final quarter. Kelly Oubre Jr. made big plays down the stretch, including the dagger 3-pointer with 1:10 left in the game.
In Morris's absence, Mike Scott started his first game in three seasons. Scott would finish with 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting, grabbed five rebounds, and played tough defense. With Mahinmi out, Jason Smith stepped up, scoring seven points and playing tough defense on Marc Gasol, who was held to 5-of-16 shooting. Smith and Marcin Gortat, who had 12 points and eight rebounds, protected the paint especially well in the first half.
Most importantly, Wall said he felt good during his return, besides missed some free throws. He knows the biggest challenge will be playing his game while not thinking about his knee soreness.
“If I’m going to be out here thinking about it, then I don’t need to be out there playing,” Wall said postgame "I’m limiting what myself can do and thinking about that too much is hurting my teammates."
The Wizards (15-13) will host the Clippers on Friday night at 7:00pm in the second game of a four-game homestand.