Regular Season Series (Game 2 of 2)

Series starts 12/11

Game 1: Tuesday, December 11th
Game 2: Saturday, April 6th

Wizards 88

(35-42, 20-18 home)

    Coverage: WBDC

    8:00 PM ET, April 6, 2002

    Verizon Center, Washington, DC

    1 2 3 4 T
    MEM 26 22 13 2485
    WSH 26 21 18 2388

    Top Performers

    Mem: P. Gasol 16 Pts, 7 Reb, 2 Ast, 4 Blk

    WSH: P. Jones 6 Pts, 15 Reb, 4 Ast

    Playoffs likely out of reach, but Wiz still battling

    WASHINGTON (AP) -- At times, it looked like the rookie game at All-Star weekend. Seven rookies played nine minutes or more, and two second-year players scored in double figures.

    But it was the second-oldest player in uniform, Chris Whitney, who calmly sank two free throws with 13.4 seconds to play as the Washington Wizards hung on for an 88-85 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday night.

    "Those are situations that I thrive on," said the 30-year-old guard, 10th in the NBA in free-throw shooting entering the game. "Whether it's a free throw or a jump shot for the game, I have total confidence to make either shot."

    The victory, the first for the Wizards since Michael Jordan announced he was out for the season, broke a four-game losing streak and kept Washington's faint playoff hopes flickering.

    The Wizards are three games behind Indiana and Toronto, who are tied for eighth place in the Eastern Conference, and have five games remaining.

    "It's not the wins and losses that mean a lot to me -- it's that we're growing," Washington coach Doug Collins said. "Even though we might not make the playoffs, our guys have shown that hard work means something. You just don't take a loss because that's an easy thing to do."

    More realistically, the game showed the Wizards what they are without Jordan -- capable of playing a very competitive game with one of the worst teams in the Western Conference. There were 16 ties and 10 lead changes, and neither team led by more than seven points.

    The Grizzlies hurt themselves with 15 turnovers and 13 missed three free throws, and the game wasn't decided until Jason Williams missed two 3-pointers in the final 10 seconds.

    "They didn't beat us," Grizzlies center Lorenzen Wright said. "We just lost the game. The things we did -- missed free throws, turnovers, offensive rebounds they got -- that's what lost the game."

    Richard Hamilton and Courtney Alexander scored 15 points apiece, and Whitney had seven points and six assists.

    Pau Gasol scored 16 points, and Williams had 15 points and 11 assists for the Grizzlies.

    The Grizzlies started rookies Gasol, Shane Battier and Will Solomon, while the Wizards used rookies Kwame Brown, Brendan Haywood, Etan Thomas and Bobby Simmons extensively off the bench. All seven players had at least seven points or seven rebounds.

    "That's the way it is in the league right now," said 34-year-old Grizzles center Tony Massenburg, the oldest player in uniform. "This is a young guy's league."

    It was Wizards' third game, and the first at home, since Jordan went on the injured list. As a result, the crowd was the smallest at the MCI Center this season, with thousands of the empty seats throughout the arena despite the Wizards announcement that the game was a sellout.

    Hamilton, who spent part of the second half in the locker room for treatment on a nagging groin injury, hit a 16-foot jumper with 31.3 seconds remaining to give the Wizards an 84-81 lead.

    The Grizzlies called a timeout to set up a play, and then they had to call two more because they twice couldn't get the ball inbounds. Once they did, Stromile Swift drove down the middle for a dunk to make it 84-83 with 25.5 left.

    Thomas answered with a dunk on an inbounds pass from Alexander with 24.1 to go. Eddie Gill made two free throws to get the deficit back to one before Whitney returned the favor to make it a three-point lead.

    Williams had two chances to tie in the final seconds. The first was a desperation, off-balance shot, but the Grizzlies got the rebound and got him the ball again. He had time to set himself, but the shot at the buzzer clanged off the rim.

    Game notes

    Jordan, as he did during his previous stint on the injured list, watched the game from the locker room. ... Grizzlies F Grant Long missed the game with a pulled groin. ... Wizards F Christian Laettner was out with back spasms. ... Referee Luis Grillo came up with a new description for a foul when he whistled Washington's Popeye Jones in the fourth quarter. "Fifty-four is dancing with Battier!" Grillo yelled to the scorer's table. ... Miss USA Shauntay Hinton, a former Howard University cheerleader, was at the game.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 85 88
    FGM-FGA 31-74 (.419) 36-95 (.379)
    3PM-3PA 2-13 (.154) 2-9 (.222)
    FTM-FTA 21-34 (.618) 14-20 (.700)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 11-48 19-58
    Assists 20 24
    Turnovers 15 9
    Steals 5 9
    Blocks 14 2
    Fast Break Points 3 6
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 20 (0/0) 25 (1/0)

    Top Performers

    Pau Gasol Gasol
    Points: 16
    Reb: 7
    Ast: 2
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 4
    Popeye Jones Jones
    Points: 6
    Reb: 15
    Ast: 4
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 0