The night after another head-scratching loss, Wizards coach Scott Brooks was able to at least start Wednesday evening with good news. Brooks acknowledged that All-Star point guard John Wall was feeling well enough to return to the floor after missing nine games. He would start. The Wizards had their best player back for the first time in two weeks.
Brooks also received pleasant news at the end of the night. Washington’s good-enough performance provided a 93-87 win against the Memphis Grizzlies and snapped a two-game losing streak.
Wall put together a quick run late in the second. He made a 3-pointer, then followed with a dunk and some preening. He finished the first half with 10 points in 13:30 on the floor, aligning him for Brooks’ projection of playing 26 minutes or so in his first game since he played 41 minutes Nov. 22. Wall finished with 13 points in 28 minutes.
On Nov. 25, Wall received platelet-rich plasma and viscosupplementation injections in his achy left knee. Washington shut him down for two weeks. During the break, Wall became cranky because he could not play, saying he was “going crazy” before he first practiced Dec. 7 during the Wizards‘ road trip.
He returned to a team that had many of the same ills as when he left. The Wizards have an odd propensity for losing to inferior opponents this season and beating the better ones. They were at risk of supplementing this trend against a woeful Memphis team on Wednesday night. At the end of the third quarter, Washington’s lead was a meager three points. Their largest lead was 17 points. The Grizzlies had never led.
Memphis crept to within a point at the start of the fourth quarter. Then tied the score with a 3-pointer on the next possession. James Ennis made a 3-pointer to give the Grizzlies their first lead with 8:53 to play in the fourth quarter.
Washington was in danger of losing to a team that came into the game with an 8-17 record, had fired its coach already, was 1-9 in its last 10 games and had lost four in a row.
A 13-0 run followed. It produced an 11-point lead and moderate exhaling.
Relief was temporary. Marc Gasol dunked to cut Washington’s lead to 83-80 with 2:34 to play. Two 3-pointers, one by Bradley Beal and the other by Kelly Oubre, rebooted Washington’s lead. Wall punctuated the close of the evening by blocking a Chandler Parsons’ dunk attempt, indicating just how much better his knee felt.
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