7:00 PM ET, November 23, 2002
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- Memphis' first sellout crowd of the season got to see Michael Jordan play and the Grizzlies win.
The Grizzlies' Pau Gasol takes Kwame Brown for a drive.
"It was just a matter of time for us to collectively come to a point where we made it happen,'' Watson said.
The Grizzlies gave Hubie Brown a victory in his sixth game as coach and ended the worst season-opening losing streak in franchise history. Memphis avoided the NBA record of 17 straight losses at the beginning of a season held by Miami (1988) and the Los Angeles Clippers (1999).
It was Brown's first NBA victory since 1986 when he went 4-12 coaching the New York Knicks.
"We all know we didn't win the World Series, but what happens now is it takes a little pressure off the kids in the community. That's what I'm happy about,'' Brown said.
Watson, a second-year guard out of UCLA, handed out five assists with no turnovers, and Wesley Person had 14 points off the bench. Gordan Giricek had 11 points, and Lorenzen Wright and Stromile Swift each had 10.
"It's definitely a bad loss for us, and it leaves a bad taste in your mouth,'' Stackhouse said. "It's an embarrassing loss. We lost to the worst team in the league who hadn't won a game yet.''
Washington coach Doug Collins downplayed becoming the Grizzlies' first victim. He was more concerned that his Wizards only got to the free throw line 10 times, well below their average of 27 attempts. He also didn't like how they threw up quick shots from outside, going 2-for-13 from 3-point range.
"We're a team that's marked because we've got Michael Jordan on our team, and everybody's going to get excited to play against us. ... I just didn't think we played with poise. We were just rushing everything. We started out rushing, and we never got in any kind of rhythm. We came apart at the end, and that's what's discouraging,'' Collins said.
Memphis outshot Washington 50 percent to 38 percent.
Washington, which has lost three straight games, last led 51-50 with 4:38 left in the third. Watson started the Grizzlies on a 12-2 run with six points, including two free throws for a 62-53 lead with 10:10 left in the game.
Jordan tried to rally the Wizards as he scored 10 points in the fourth quarter. He pulled them to 73-72 when he stole the ball from rookie Drew Gooden and dunked with 3:29 to go. Lue hit a jumper that tied it at 74 with 2:57 left, but that was as close as the Wizards would get as Jordan missed three shots down the stretch.
Watson broke the tie with the Grizzlies' only 3 from the top of the key with 2:38 remaining, and he added four free throws in the final 30 seconds as Memphis finished with an 11-0 run.
Brown had been treating his first six games over nine days as if they were exhibitions, trying to patiently evaluate his talent and learn about his team.
Some of the Wizards aren't nearly as patient. Charles Oakley said they need to look at themselves and quit having mental lapses on the court. Jordan, who said the Grizzlies deserved to win, pointed out it's still early in the season.
"As talented as we are on paper, we are not that talented on the court with each other,'' Jordan said.
Memphis opened the game by scoring the first four points, led 24-21 after the first period was up 40-34 late in the second. But Oakley scored four points as the Wizards had the final eight points for a 42-40 halftime lead.
The Grizzlies had their first sellout in seven home games, but the crowd of 19,351 stayed relatively quiet until 5:39 left in the first quarter when the fans cheered Jordan subbing in for Bryon Russell. He didn't disappoint as he hit a 21-foot jumper, then a 20-footer.
Jordan made his first three shots and had six points in the quarter. But he had just one basket in a second quarter that included a missed layup and a turnover.
Washington now is 0-6 when trailing after three quarters. The Wizards also are 1-5 on the road. ... The Wizards blocked a season-low one shot courtesy of Brown. ... Washington had been 5-0 when outrebounding opponents. They outrebounded Memphis 41-36. ... The 74 points allowed were a season-low for Memphis. The previous was 84 by Denver on Nov. 9. ... Pau Gasol had a team-high 15 rebounds for Memphis, but he had just seven points. It was only the second time this season he has failed to score in double figures.
Team Stat Comparison
|FGM-FGA||32-83 (.386)||32-63 (.508)|
|3PM-3PA||2-13 (.154)||1-5 (.200)|
|FTM-FTA||8-10 (.800)||20-25 (.800)|
|Fast Break Points||1||5|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||25 (1/0)||16 (0/0)|