Trailing 110-107 with just under 4 seconds left, the Wizards had the ball out of bounds with a chance to tie. But a steal of the inbounds pass by guard Mike Conley and his two ensuing free throws provided Memphis with a 112-107 victory over the Wizards on Wednesday night, giving the Grizzlies their first home win since the All-Star break.
"I saw Caron Butler going to the corner at the beginning," Conley said of his defense against Javaris Crittenton's inbounds pass. "I figured somebody had to be popping through the top, so I just jumped that way and took a gamble, and it worked out."
Rudy Gay scored 25 points and Conley added 22 to lead the Grizzlies. Marc Gasol and O.J. Mayo scored 18 points apiece. Gasol grabbed nine rebounds, and Mayo had seven assists. Hakim Warrick had 12 points.
Butler had 31 points for Washington, which lost its third straight, while Antawn Jamison had 28 points and 10 rebounds. Reserve Nick Young had 16 points and Crittenton finished with 13 points and a career-high 11 rebounds.
The Wizards were without guard Gilbert Arenas, who continues to play in selected games resting his surgically repaired knee. But Washington did have the services of center Brendan Haywood, who played in his first game this season after surgery on his right wrist last October. Haywood played 24 minutes and had two points, missing five of his six shots from the field.
"That was a luxury we've definitely been missing all year," Jamison said. "Just his presence in the paint on both ends of the floor means a lot.
" I thought he played pretty well. I know his wind is not where it needs to be, but I thought he did a good job."
Memphis held its biggest lead of the game, 88-73, entering the fourth period, but Washington opened the quarter with a 17-5 run. The Wizards connected on six consecutive free throws, four by Jamison, to get within 93-90. Butler, who had 14 in the fourth quarter, later connected on a 3-pointer and a 20-footer to tie it at 105 with 1:23 left.
Conley's two free throws with 24 seconds remaining gave Memphis the lead for good at 107-105, and his steal and free throws later preserved the Memphis the victory.
"It's a definite sign of growth," Conley said of hanging on for the win. "Guys really stepped in and made big plays on the defensive end more than on the offensive end."
The game pitted two of the worst teams in the NBA. The Wizards are at the bottom of the Eastern Conference. Meanwhile, the Grizzlies have only the Clippers and Sacramento Kings below them in the West.
"When we were good, we were good," Wizards interim coach Ed Tapscott said. "When we were bad, we were bad. We were digging out of a 15-point hole coming out of the third quarter.
"Just a few miscues turned it around. We need to value the ball and make sure we get quality possessions. Too many times tonight we didn't, and that's why we lost the game."
Memphis took a 57-50 lead into halftime. Memphis ran off 10 unanswered points to build its first double-digit lead, eventually reaching 55-42 after Conley converted a pair of free throws with just over 2 minutes remaining before the break.
"The sense of urgency wasn't there offensively," Jamison said. "We were taking bad shots. Quick shots."
Washington chipped away at the Memphis lead in the early stages of the second half even though the shot selection was questionable and the intensity waning.
"C'mon, wake up. Let's go!" Tapscott yelled from the bench as Memphis began to rebuild its lead, which eventually reached double digits again.
Gasol added eight points in the third quarter, Gay had seven and Quinton Ross' 22-foot jumper as the horn sounded at the end of the period gave the Grizzlies their 88-73 lead, their biggest of the game.
Memphis won its fourth in a row over the Wizards. The Grizzlies have now won three of their last four overall.
"I think sooner or later people will understand we're trying to make strides in the right direction," Gay said.
Part of the reason Arenas didn't play against the Grizzlies was because of the Wizards' home game Thursday against the Cavaliers. Tapscott said since Washington is playing a back-to-back, it was only fair that the Wizards fans get to see Arenas play rather than while Washington was on the road. ... Former Grizzlies guard Crittenton was in the starting lineup for Washington. Crittenton was obtained in a three-team trade between Memphis, Washington and New Orleans in December. ... Memphis reserve G Marko Jaric did not dress because of flu-like symptoms. ... The talk around Memphis still is about former University of Memphis coach John Calipari leaving for Kentucky. Asked kiddingly if he was in line to interview for the Tiger post, Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins replied: "I have no desire for that job. And I feel for the next coach, walking in behind a guy that won (61) conference games in a row, has been to an Elite Eight and a Final Four." ... Jamison has reached double figures in 71 straight games. ...The last home win for the Grizzlies was Feb. 9. ...Memphis swept the season series over the Wizards, the second team Memphis has swept this season. Monday night's win over Golden State gave Memphis a 3-0 record against the Warriors this season.
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