When Wall finally got up, with the assistance of Waters, and headed to the locker room — hunched over and holding his left shoulder — the Wizards could only assume the worst; since for much of the season, that’s been the only news that they have received.
Turned out, Wall would only miss the rest of the half. But getting Wall back did little to help the Wizards avoid their scoring doldrums as they lost their third consecutive game, 85-76, to the Memphis Grizzlies.
Wall had nine points, seven rebounds and six assists in just 23 minutes for the Wizards, who only had one player score in double figures and were limited to just 46 points in the final three quarters. The problems began in the second period, when the new-look Grizzlies limited them to a season-low 10 points, with the Wizards missing 12 consecutive shots.
“We stopped throwing the ball inside and you’ve got to know that feel of the game,” Coach Randy Wittman said after the Wizards lost their eighth consecutive game at FedEx Forum after winning the first game ever played in the arena on Nov. 3, 2004. “Things aren’t going a certain way, you’ve got to combat that. We went away from playing inside-out and just took perimeter shots. That hurt us.”
The Wizards (11-34) are 6-6 since Wall returned from a stress injury in his left knee, but they have played the past two games without rookie guard Bradley Beal, who sat again with a sprained right wrist. Beal said before the game that he would take as much time as necessary for his wrist to heal.
“I’m not going to rush back,” said Beal, who was honored as Eastern Conference rookie of the month earlier in the day. He played six games with the injury and added that “it hurts like heck.”
Nene led the team with 14 points but he shot just 7 of 16 from the field, with the Memphis big man tandem of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph making it hard for the Wizards to generate much inside. Four others — Martell Webster, Emeka Okafor, Kevin Seraphin and Jordan Crawford — each had eight as the Wizards failed to score at least 80 points for the first time since Wall returned. They are averaging just 90.9 points in their past eight games, going 3-5 in those contests, after averaging 104.8 points and going 3-1 in their first four games with Wall.
“I think we need to play more hard, and more smart and sometime, we need to take it more personal,” Nene said. “Like: ‘I’m going to beat my man. I’m going to guard him.’ We need to have pride. Pride you can’t teach and you can’t tell. You have it or not. That’s the difference. That’s how they play on us.”