The Wizards were ice cold from the floor tonight, but pulled out a win at home anyway because they got to the line twice as often as their opponent and hit three times as many free throws [30 to 10]. The Wizards shot under 38 percent from the field and missed 13 of 16 3-pointers, but they 86% from the line and gutted out a tough, come-from-behind win against the Memphis Grizzlies, who had dominated the Wizards at home and on the road in recent years. This was the 5th straight loss for Memphis.
Gilbert Arenas, making his third straight start in place of the injured John Wall, led all scorers with 24 points, though he also committed a game-high 5 turnovers. His +12 court ratio was the best of any player on either team tonight. Arenas' backcourt mate Kirk Hinrich chipped in with 22 points, including 9 of 9 from the charity stripe and a game-high 6 dimes. Andray Blatche had 17 points and 9 rebounds, but was largely balanced out by Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph, who scored 19 points and grabbed 12 boards. Once again, center Javale McGee was a berserkr on the court, racing up and down, getting himself out of position with this constant risk-taking, but also blocking 3 shots, pulling down 12 rebounds and keeping numerous possessions alive with his tip-outs to his teammates. McGee's physical energy is truly impressive. The best example of it was in the 4th quarter when he was handling the ball near the top of the key when he should have given the ball up to a guard. Instead, he had the ball stripped and stolen and the Grizzlies raced down for a layup score, Undeterred by his mistake, McGee ran after the play and leapt into the air, swatting away the layup attempt, which was recovered by Arenas. It was an amazing display of McGee's speed and athleticism, as well as his poor decision-making and ferocious energy.
Arenas and Hinrich made up for Al Thornton, Nick Young and Trevor Booker, who combined to shoot 3 for 21. Young had been smoking hot in recent games, but he cooled off considerably [1-8] tonight and his -8 court ratio was the worst on the team. Arenas and Hinrich combined to score 46 of Washington's 89 points and Gil has scored at least 20 points in 3 of his last 4 games.
The key part in the game came with 8 minutes remaining in regulation, with the Wizards trailing 75-71. Arenas & Hinrich scored Washington's next 12 points, including a 3-pointer by Gil. Washington led 85-79 with over 2 minutes in regulation when turnovers and a maddening inability to hit open shots began to tell. The Wizards pulled back with a possession of tying the game, but they couldn't hit the free throws and the Wizards could and did. Down by 3 points with 10 seconds remaining, Memphis had the ball and a decent chance to send the game to overtime. However, OJ Mayo [1-11 shooting] and Mike Conley both missed 3-pointers and time expired.
The Wizards improved their record to 4-7 and have won 2 of 3 without Wall -- though the hideous beat-down in Boston felt like more than one loss. The Wizards are now 4-2 at home, but winless in 5 games on the road. Washington's four wins this year came against against Philadelphia, Houston, Toronto & Memphis -- teams with a combined record of 12-35 when Friday night's games began.
Lester Hudson played only 4 seconds, while Kevin Seraphin and Hamady N'diaye were both DNP-CD. In addition to Wall, F-C Yi Jianlian sat out with an injury. Wall is a possibility to play on Sunday against the Detroit Pistons in the Palace at Auburn Hills.