Right from the jump, it was clear the Wizards were at a big disadvantage Saturday night.
In a 115-95 loss in Memphis, the Wizards were handled on the glass against the Grizzlies in the team’s fifth-straight loss. The largest problem, both figuratively and literally, came from Steven Adams, who dominated the paint from start to finish.
“In certain situations when you try to put two bodies on him, then somebody else comes in to crash in,” Kyle Kuzma said. “They definitely played harder than us. Steven Adams, that’s what he does, that’s what he’s done his entire career. Crashing the boards, big body, it’s tough down there. Tip your hat to them, they played harder than us. The 20-plus offensive rebounds tells that story of who wanted it more tonight.”
In total, the Grizzlies outrebounded the Wizards 65-46 and put up 21 offensive rebounds — 10 of which came from Adams alone. He finished the night with 15 rebounds, three blocks and 10 points.
Points in the paint weren’t any more favorable to the Wizards, as 60 of the Grizzlies 115 points came in the painted area. In comparison, the Wizards had 46.
“Once again, it’s a mindset,” coach Wes Unseld Jr. said. “It’s not one guy to do it. That ball gets batted around, a lot of those are 50-50 balls and we have to find a way to come up with some of those. But I don’t know schematically if there’s any more you can do. It’s just more of an effort and a mindset, something we’ve got to be aware of. There has to be urgency to get to it.”
Due to the lack of rebounding, second-chance points killed the Wizards, too. They surrendered 36 second-chance points, while they had just seven of their own.
The Grizzlies attempted 16 more (100-84) field goal attempts than the Wizards did, as the domination on the glass allowed the Grizzlies more chances to score, and prevented the Wizards from getting in a rhythm all night.
Another factor might have been the absence of Daniel Gafford, who was out of the rotation and starting lineup due to a coach’s decision. Unseld said it wasn’t Gafford’s play, but rather he wanted to give Thomas Bryant a shot with the starters to see how a two-center rotation worked for the team.
But no matter what the Wizards did Saturday against the Grizzlies, it wasn’t enough to overcome the lopsided battle on the boards.
“You could argue that, I can only speculate,” Unseld said, when asked if Gafford would have made a better impact. “I don’t know. It’s one thing to say, ‘Hey, it didn’t work.’ But if it had, we would say, ‘Hey, TB did a terrific job.’ Potentially yeah, it could have, but I think it’s a collective thing. Not one person alone is going to stop Adams from going to the offensive glass. It’s got to be a mindset with the other four guys that they have to hunt and hit him.”