Mack led an early fourth quarter rally until he was sent to the bench. Credit: Spruce Derden-US PRESSWIRE
WSAHINGTON (WUSA) -- For the second straight game the Wizards committed a whopping 20 turnovers -- seven by John Wall -- and posted a subpar third quarter, on their way to a 97-92 defeat at the hands of the Memphis Grizzlies. The loss drops Washington to 10-34 on the season and 8-19 under interim head coach Randy Wittman.
Rudy Gay's 12 points in the third docket -- and 27 total in his 44 minutes -- also meant that for the second straight game a lesser NBA star player was able to embarrass the Wizards perimeter defense. Joe Johnson posted a season-high 34 points Friday night against Washington. Defending some of the NBA's elite wing scorers has surfaced as a primary problem for the Wizards boatload of dilemmas.
Why the Wizards lost: Defensive pressure, offensive rebounding and Rudy Gay
Besides the fact that they're probably the most underrated team in the league, the Grizzlies make opponents feel like they are competing on the playground. The scrappy style of play continually disrupted Washington's set plays, particularly in the second half.
Guards Mike Conley and Tony Allen barely allowed John Wall to breathe with suffocating half-court pressure. Then there's subtle pushing and shoving from big men Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. Memphis has answers at every position, one-through-five. If the season ended today, the Grizzlies would be matched up against the Clippers in the playoffs. I would readily give Memphis the upper hand because of the team's crafted roles.
Sunday night it was Rudy Gay's star power which ultimately elevated the Grizzlies. Credit Memphis head coach Lionel Hollins for playing Gay during the entire fourth quarter, grasping the Wizards lack of an adequate wing defender. Having a player over 6-foot-7 also feature as your lights out shooter is becoming a must have if you want to win in today's NBA. Memphis has Gay, while the Wizards have Rashard Lewis. Big difference.
The lack of the perimeter defense is something Washington must address in free agency, rather than the draft. Rookie Chris Singleton was supposed to be one of -- if not the -- top defensive specialist last year. The Wizards can't afford to roll the dice on another draft pick, especially since the team needs scoring more than anything.
How the Wizards almost won: Shelvin Mack
Trailing 74-66 entering the fourth quarter, the sloppy Wizards entered attack mode. Backup Shelvin Mack scored seven points in a two minute span, tying the game at 80 with just over eight minutes remaining. He finished with just 14 total minutes.
The Wizards plain and simple were not going to stop Rudy Gay. Randy Wittman should have played Shelvin Mack throughout the fourth quarter in a smaller lineup alongside Wall, Crawford, Booker and Seraphin. Wall can guard taller defenders and loves trapping forwards near the hoop with his absurd leaping abilities. And utilizing Mack as the distributor eases a ton of pressure on Wall if the Wizards are trailing in the fourth. Wall could act like the primary scorer without having to worry about getting everyone involved.
I've tweeted it and I've written about it, and now since Nick Young is gone, Mack in the crunch time should finally be happening. Wittman missed a golden opportunity to experiment with the rookie from Butler Sunday in Memphis.
Why should we remember this game: Kevin Seraphin
It was kind of hilarious that the Grizzlies had to key in on the second year Frenchman during the second half. If you told me a team was collapsing on Seraphin with the basketball in late January, I would have asked you which D-League team he was on.
Seraphin posted 10 points and nine rebounds in the first half and finished with 12 and 11 respectively. Seraphin played his part against Marc Gasol, (15 points, nine boards) who honestly had less of an impact on the game than his numbers suggest.
The minute count: Seraphin-38, Booker-37, Wall-34, Singleton-33, Crawford-32, Mason-16, Evans-14, Mack-14, Cook-8, Vesely-7, Blatche-5.
*The Wizards shot 47.4 percent compared the the Grizzlies 40.0.
*The Wizards had 11 blocks.
*Chris Singleton had five steals.
*Trevor Booker had just three rebounds.
*John Wall was 5-for-10 from the free throw line.