Wizards

Wizards shoot lights-out to defeat Grizzlies 115-87

Wizards

WASHINGTON -- The Washington Wizards beat the Memphis Grizzlies 115-87 on Friday night at Capital One Arena. Here are five observations from what went down...

Bounceback

After two straight losses to the Hawks and Raptors, the Wizards' schedule did them no favors with a tough matchup against the Grizzlies on Friday night, a team that came in fresh off two straight wins over the very good Denver Nuggets. The Wizards, though, got back in the win column and convincingly. They beat Memphis handily by 28 points, their biggest margin of victory of the season so far.

It was a great night all-around for the Wizards' defense. The Grizzlies came in ranked seventh in offensive rating, yet the Wizards held them to a season-low 87 points on 35.4% shooting from the field and 19.4% (6-for-31) from three.

The Wizards, meanwhile, shot lights-out. They made 58.3% from the field with 34 assists as a team. And they built such a comfortable lead that Bradley Beal (17 points, 7-12 FG) got to sit for the entire fourth quarter.

With the win, the Wizards are 6-3 on the year. Up next is Giannis Antetokounmpo and the defending-champion Milwaukee Bucks.

Threes were falling

The Wizards entered this game still waiting for what they hoped would be an improved three-point shooting attack to start bearing fruit. Though they added plenty of shooting over the summer, they rank bottom-third in all three-point shooting categories, just as they did last year. 

Against the Grizzlies they had a chance for better luck as Memphis began the day allowing the second-highest three-point percentage (38.6) and the fifth-most makes per game (13.8) of any team. The Wizards were able to take advantage of that and quickly, as they made their first threes of the game, were 8-for-16 by halftime and finished the game 10-for-25, good for 40%. It was one of their best outside shooting nights of the season so far.

 

Gafford played better

Daniel Gafford was not his usual affable self in his post-practice press conference on Thursday. He was clearly frustrated after a string of games which he felt were not up to his standard. Even though he recently returned from a painful quadriceps injury, he was not accepting that as any sort of excuse.

Gafford turned things around against the Grizzlies with 15 points, four rebounds and two blocks. The Wizards got him going early by running a series of plays through him in the first quarter. He threw down a vicious lob tossed by Spencer Dinwiddie, who drove left to draw a double-team. Perhaps Gafford will be a bit happier after this one.

Neto was a plus

The Wizards got a nice boost off the bench by Raul Neto, who gave them 15 points in 26 minutes on 7-for-8 shooting. He also had five rebounds, three assists and played some tough defense on Grizzlies star Ja Morant. 

Neto continues to give the Wizards positive minutes despite playing with a wrap on his left shoulder. He suffered a shoulder contusion when colliding with Kevin Durant in the Wizards' loss to the Nets on Oct. 25, but only missed one game. It's likely he is still playing through some discomfort, but that's just how Neto rolls. Time and time again last season he played through injuries and still put his body on the line. This year it has been no different.

Morant was off

Morant came into this game tied for fourth in the NBA with 27.0 points per game, looking like he has made the superstar leap in now his third NBA season. But the Wizards were able to give him problems all night and hold him to 11 points on 4-for-17 shooting. It was led by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who did an excellent job staying in front of him and making him uncomfortable with his size and length. Raul Neto also had some success on him.

Gafford provided a security blanket behind them with impressive timing to counter Morant's explosion at the rim. He blocked him twice in a span of two minutes in the third quarter. Part of what makes Gafford's upside so intriguing is how quickly he can change direction when defending guards. Even when Gafford wasn't on the floor, the Wizards were quick to contest Morant's floaters. Just about all of them rimmed out.