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Grizzlies Turn Back Wizards, 113-97

The Grizzlies' Rudy Gay, left, and the Wizards' Antawn Jamison (29 points) go after a loose ball in the fourth quarter.
The Grizzlies' Rudy Gay, left, and the Wizards' Antawn Jamison (29 points) go after a loose ball in the fourth quarter. (By Preston Keres -- The Washington Post)
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By Ivan Carter
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Wizards haven't given their fans much reason for optimism this season, but you've got to give the folks in Section 104 of Verizon Center credit for something last night: They were dutifully chanting "D-E-F-E-N-S-E" early in the fourth quarter even though their team had already given up 99 points to the 11-win Memphis Grizzlies.

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The enthusiasm didn't last long and the majority of a season-low crowd of 11,442 began heading for the exits with just more than three minutes to play as the Wizards dropped to 10-38 with a sloppy 113-97 loss.

The Grizzlies (12-35) emphatically snapped a 12-game losing skid thanks in large part to rookie guard O.J. Mayo, who tied a season high with 33 points on 12-for-22 shooting. When it was over, Wizards interim coach Ed Tapscott offered the harshest critique of his team's effort since replacing Eddie Jordan on Nov. 24.

"There wasn't any hustle, there wasn't any life," Tapscott said. "Just a very, very poor effort. There is nothing else I can try and describe it as. I try to find something positive from every game but it is very hard to find anything positive tonight."

Antawn Jamison led the Wizards with 29 points and 13 rebounds for his fifth straight double-double while Caron Butler added 21 points and nine rebounds. Nick Young and JaVale McGee combined to score 24 points off the bench but the Wizards could not contain Mayo or his sidekick, former All-Met Player of the Year Rudy Gay, who scored 23 points and had some spectacular drives to the basket.

Memphis shot 49.4 percent, finished with a 20-4 edge in fast-break points and scored 28 points off of 17 Wizards' turnovers. Rookie center Marc Gasol controlled the post and collected 22 points and 11 rebounds.

The Wizards led 79-75 after McGee cut to the basket, received a pass from Dominic McGuire and dunked.

But Greg Buckner made a three-pointer to spark a 19-2 Memphis run that was a combination of sloppiness and a failure to get back on defense by the Wizards and aggressiveness by the Grizzlies.

The Wizards turned the ball over on their last six possessions of the quarter and the Grizzlies took full advantage by turning those mistakes into easy scores.

In the final 50 seconds of the quarter, Gay went behind the back before making a layup while drawing a foul on McGuire. After Gay completed the three-point play with a free throw, a Marko Jaric steal led to a Darius Miles alley-oop pass to Gay for a dunk. Then, after Young missed a jumper, the Grizzlies pushed the ball rapidly and Quinton Ross found Miles for an alley-oop dunk.

Memphis outscored the Wizards 33-24 during the third to carry a 94-81 lead into the fourth.

"When you're playing against a young team like that, they usually thrive off of fast breaks and getting dunks and plays like that," said Young, who preceded Mayo by one season at USC though they never played there together. "O.J. came out real aggressive, got it going and was really on tonight."


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