Grizzlies 104, Wizards 79
The Washington Wizards' Antonio Daniels was held out of Saturday night's 104-79 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies because of a sprained ankle he suffered in practice Friday.
That sprain, which he described as mild, has been about the only thing that has slowed Daniels, whose attacking, relentless play earned him several floor burns as well as 25 free throw attempts in the first two exhibition games against Cleveland and San Antonio.
When the Wizards signed Daniels in the offseason, they knew they were getting a playoff veteran who can play and defend either guard position. They also knew they were getting a pit bull with the ability to play fast without playing sloppy.
"The thing I really like is that he's aggressive, but he also takes care of the basketball," Wizards Coach Eddie Jordan said. "The last two years he's been very high in assist-to-turnover ratio. When you can attack like he can and you don't turn the ball over and you make the right decisions, that's a real plus for us."
Daniels, who said he will play Tuesday night against the Lakers in Bakersfield, Calif., has swung between both guard spots and, in 42 minutes, has only four turnovers.
That's nothing new for Daniels, who led the league in assist-to-turnover ratio in 2003-04 and finished second in that category last season. Daniels also attempted a career-high 304 free throws last season, making 81.6 percent, and was a big a reason why Seattle had one of the most diverse offensive attacks in the league.
Daniels's reckless style doesn't always look pretty. Against Cleveland, he hit the floor hard after attempting to finish a fast break with a soaring one-handed finger roll that has long been a signature of his game. Daniels hit the deck on a similar play against San Antonio. However, on both occasions, he got up, dusted himself off and stepped to the free throw line.
"That's the way I play," Daniels said. "I like to push the ball and attack the rim and put as much pressure on the defense as I can. Sometimes you get to the line and sometimes you can break the defense down and get a teammate an easy basket. Either way it's a good result for us."
The willingness to look for teammates before looking for his own shot is another reason Jordan likes Daniels. Prior to Saturday's game, Jordan said he has installed only a portion of his overall offense, but the basic principles that run through everything he teaches are ball movement, sharp cuts and crisp passes.
Daniels excelled in those areas while averaging a career-high 11.2 points per game along with 4.1 assists and 2.3 rebounds per game last season for the 52-30 Sonics and chose Washington in part because he felt he would excel in Jordan's system.
With Daniels, Gilbert Arenas and Jarvis Hayes in street clothes Saturday night, the Wizards played their ugliest game of the preseason. Washington made only two of its first 12 shots, trailed 30-11 at the end of the first quarter and never recovered.
The Wizards shot 35.5 percent, turned over the ball 19 times and looked a couple of steps slow on defense. The Wizards also had no answer for Memphis forward Pau Gasol, who made three of his first four shots and finished with 19 points and eight rebounds.
Rookie forward Hakim Warrick also scored 19 points for Memphis and made the play of the night: a spectacular, one-handed dunk over three Wizards.
Jared Jeffries, who missed Thursday's game against San Antonio because of groin soreness, started at guard along with Chucky Atkins, who replaced Arenas for the second straight game and had a team-high 19 points.
The injuries at the guard position allowed rookie Donell Taylor his most extended playing time of the preseason. He finished with 14 points on 5-of-6 shooting and handed out two assists in 24 minutes.
Wizards Notes: Arenas (groin and hamstring) and Hayes (knee) will play Tuesday night against the Lakers. . The Grizzlies played the Miami Heat in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Friday night and didn't arrive back in Memphis until around 4 a.m. Saturday. Lorenzen Wright did not play for Memphis.