7:00 PM ET, March 3, 2014
Verizon Center, Washington, DC
WASHINGTON -- Tayshaun Prince was having his best scoring game of the season, and the Memphis Grizzlies were cruising in the fourth quarter, when a loose ball somehow ended up in the hands of little-used Washington Wizards rookie Otto Porter. Porter let it fly to beat the shot clock -- and it went in for his first NBA 3-pointer.
"My thought was like, 'Man, if you make that type of shot, then here goes the fourth quarter,'" Prince said.
The Grizzlies led by as many as 19 in the final period, but the Wizards made six 3s over those final 12 minutes. Porter, a career 0-for-10 from long range entering the game, made a second one. The lead was down to two after Bradley Beal's 3-pointer with 8.9 seconds remaining, but time ran out not a moment too soon for Memphis, which made its free throws in the closing seconds to preserve a 110-104 win Monday night.
"The most important thing," Prince said, "is we stay composed."
Prince finished with a season-high 21 points, and Zach Randolph added 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Grizzlies, who improved to a season-high nine games above .500 and pulled within one game of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Memphis shot 60 percent after the first quarter and outscored Washington 62-34 in the paint for the game.
John Wall scored 23 points, Beal had 21, and Marcin Gortat added 16 for the Wizards, who had a six-game winning streak snapped. Washington had answered a challenge by winning its first three games after losing starting forward Nene to a knee injury, but this time the rotation was also missing forwards Kevin Seraphin (sore right knee) and Martell Webster (sore back).
Which is how Porter ended up getting some major playing time, something scarcely seen this season by the No. 3 overall pick in the draft. He had scored only 39 points all season, and he looked as surprised as anyone when his first 3-pointer went swish.
"I don't know how that went in," he said. "But I had to get it up there."
The Grizzlies appeared in control after a 17-2 run over the final 3 1/2 minutes of the third quarter. Mike Conley (20 points, seven assists) started the spurt with a left-handed driving layup. Both Randolph and Tony Allen converted three-point plays, and Prince hit a 3-point shot as the lead grew to 79-64 entering the fourth.
After Porter's initial 3-pointer, Nick Calathes made a jumper to push the lead to 19, but the Wizards kept coming. Porter's second 3-pointer made the score 102-98 with 1:17 to play.
But it wouldn't be enough.
"I think that's something we find ourselves doing a lot, getting down and digging in the last five minutes of games, and I feel like we can't do that," said Washington's Trevor Ariza, who scored 15 points. "We gotta play hard throughout the whole game and compete throughout and not wait for the last five minutes to play."
The Grizzlies had 10 players make at least two field goals, while the Wizards relied heavily on their starters. Prince, whose veteran contributions aren't always reflected satisfactorily in the "points" column, was more of a scoring threat than usual.
"The difference tonight was getting a couple of post-ups early, making a couple of shots in the paint," Prince said. "You notice pretty much since I've been here, it's been jump shot after jump shot, so I had the opportunity today to really get inside."
Wall got his 2,000th career assist in the fourth quarter. ... Memphis F James Johnson sat out with a sprained right ankle and is day to day. ... Washington coach Randy Wittman said he expects Webster back for the Wizards' next game Wednesday. There's no timetable for Seraphin, who missed his fourth straight game. ... The Grizzlies are 16-11 on the road, and this win began a stretch in which 12 of 17 are away. "For some reason, the chemistry is a lot better," Prince said. "We're more concerned with not letting teams get out early on us, which is very surprising because when you're at home you just say, `Let's hit `em in the nose in the first quarter then we should be in good shape.' But we're doing it the opposite way."
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 3: John Wall #2 of the Washington Wizards drives against Mike Conley #11 of the Memphis...(Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)
Around The Association
MVP: Grizzled Grizzlies veteran Tayshaun Prince dropped in 21 points on 8-for-11 shooting in the win. Not bad for the 34-year-old forward averaging 6.2 points per game with an 8.02 PER.
That was ... the end of a good run: Washington saw its six-game win streak end but games against the Jazz and Bucks should give the Wiz a chance to resume challenging for a Top 4 spot in the East standings.
X factor: Washington newcomers Drew Gooden and Andre Miller didn't light up the night, combining to miss three shots in 15 minutes of action.
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